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Soul and the City #11 - "Luther"

I remember being a kid running down the road so excited to tell my sister that the new Chic song Le Freak was coming on the radio. We had been waiting days to hear the new song by one of our favorite new groups that our parents were spinning on the turntable. I remember the day my Mom bought the album C’est Chic. I picked it up and stared at the cover for what must have seemed like hours before I would share it with my sister Monique. As I sat in awe of these hip New Yorkers I quickly saw a name that would become part of my musical world forever: Luther Vandross. My ears had come to recognize that voice long before I could put a face to it. I jammed to his work with Quincy, Roberta, Chic, Chaka, and so many more before his solo joint came on the scene. When Never Too Much came out I was hooked! The voice, the grooves, those background vocals!!! I still lose my mind when I hear that intro!

I would sit for hours and study that sound, daydream about the harmonies and what those amazing singers must be like. Fonzi Thornton, Brenda White King, Phillip Ballou, Tawatha Agee, Robin Clark, Cissy Houston and Luther showed me a musical world that would shape my future.

Luther Vandross not only taught me about singing, he also showed me how hard work and living to your see your dreams come true is indeed a reality.

Friday was such an odd day for me because just minutes before taking the stage singing with Martha Redbone, I learned that this amazing talent had passed on. My mind filled with such wonderful memories I have that are connected with Luther’s music. I quickly ran through hanging with friends and singing along to “Till My Baby Comes Home,” holding Angie Jones, my high school sweetheart’s hand the first time we heard his version of “A House is Not a Home.” Sitting with my friend David “Tigger” Whitworth, Robin Smalls, or Kim Burgin and discussing who was singing what part in the backgrounds or how important it was to learn how to “hoop” the tone in order to create the warmth them folk were giving on those recordings. I can’t forget the endless conversations I had with my musical friend Al Harmon about the Vandross phrasing and the care Luther gave a melody! Christel, Roberta, Ken and whoever else would join us learning those vocal parts in my college apartment at Berklee till the wee hours of the night. All of these memories shared the stage with me Friday evening.

I was so overwhelmed that I could not bring myself to listen to any of Luther’s music until Sunday, and I haven’t stopped listening. My friend Al called and we talked about the phrasing and the brilliance of this amazing talent. Christel my old college roommate emailed to share how much fun we had listening to Luther.

As the intro to “Superstar/Until You Come Back to Me” plays, I sit here filled with many emotions. But I am so grateful that we have had the opportunity to hear one of the greatest voices ever. In a time and space when beauty and passion is so needed Luther sings and reminds us of those precious gifts. In a time when the art of singing and perfecting this craft seems to be lost, Luther makes us remember. Thank you Luther Vandross for the love, the passion, and the joy you have given us.

More Soul and the city:
Soul and the city #1 - Stand clear of the closing doors
Soul and the city #2 - The Turkey adventure
Soul and the city #3 - Mr. In Between
Soul and the city #4 - Cold Industry
Soul and the city #5 - Reminiscence
Soul and the city #6 - Big Ole Nap
Soul and the city #7 - The Good Life
Soul and the city #8 - Tortured Soul
Soul and the city #9 - A Change Is Gonna Come
Soul and the city #10 - Spring In NYC
Soul and the City #11 - "Luther"

More info about special crew member Marlon Saunders:
www.marlonsaunders.com
www.jazzhole.com
SaveOurSoul interview with Marlon Saunders
Jazzhole SaveOurSoul artist of the Month

Copyright © 2005, SaveOurSoul, Marlon Saunders

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