Father’s Day is celebrated on Sunday June 15, 2014, across the great United States of America. However, it is also important to remember and to be kind to orphans and children who grew up without a father or without knowing the name of their natural father, the father who gave them life, or his family.
While many American families celebrate Father’s Day with cookouts, parties, and family get togethers around Dad; for a child who never knew their father it also a very painful memory. Many writers have captured the father and son relationship. Few have sung about the father and son relationship with the passion and sincerity of recording artist Luther Vandross (1951-2005). His father Luther Vandross, Sr., died of diabetes when Luther Vandross, Jr., was eight years old.
Luther Vandross, Jr., was a genius and a child prodigy. He taught himself to play the piano at the age of 3. His ability to sing very painful and personal ballads gave him a faithful audience that remained with him throughout his career. To hear him sing on record albums and CD’s was great; yet, to hear him sing in person was an experience that live concert goers will never forget.
The last Luther Vandross concert that the present writer attended was in August of 2000 at the Carolina Pavilion for a beautiful outdoor concert that was an evening of the most touching and romantic ballads as an early anniversary gift for his wife before taking her on vacation to Paris, France. The concert which was dubbed an Evening with Luther Vandross was one of the most beautiful outdoor concerts under a warm summer Carolina sky that the writer had ever attended.
Vandross gave a brilliant performance and his recording of the Lionel Richie favorite, “Endless Love,” from 1981, has always been a favorite. His concert in Carolina was a beautiful night of music and exchanges between the artist and a loving audience. He gave a memorable performance that thrilled the capacity audience.
However, it would be his beautiful tribute to his father that he wrote in 2003 that was one of his most touching creations. Dance With My Father was from the brilliant mind of a man who wrote his own songs, produced his own albums, and arranged his own vocals. Even in his classic duet with Frank Sinatra one can clearly hear the distinctive vocalization that made his voice and his sound unmistakable.
The memory of dancing with his father as a child was his inspiration and he dedicated the song Dance With My Father to Luther Vandross, Sr. There have been many songs sold about a father and son relationship, Harry Chapin’s Cats in the Cradle is one such classic and was purchased by the present writer for his son on his third birthday on August 3rd, 1989. In the Living Years by Mike and the Mechanics was a favorite for the writer’s father.
Dance With My Father was so intimate, caring, and personal that it stands alone as the ultimate Father’s Day song and it swept the nation in 2003 selling 442,000 units in its opening week and debuting at #1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album Dance With My Father sold over 2.9 million albums and was the biggest selling studio album of the brilliant Luther Vandross career. Dance With My Father the song was a hit on pop, R&B, and adult contemporary radio and received the 2004 Grammy Award for Song of the Year and was accepted by co-writer Richard Marx.
Losing a parent at the age of eight is very difficult. His memories of his father were strong because he did not abandon him for the eight years. They had eight years together and he was able to remember his father and the dance that would make them both immortal. On June 3, 2014, Luther Vandross was honored by having his name placed on the famous Hollywood Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, California. The honor ensures that along with the names of famous singers in American history, Luther Vandross will not be forgotten.
The Luther Vandross Foundation was created by the Vandross family in his honor. The organization supports diabetes and diabetic related ailments.
For more information on Luther Vandross and his life and legacy or to purchase a copy of his Father’s Day tribute song and other works go to: www.luthervandross.com.
The album and song are both titled Dance With My Father. Walmart provided the family gift copy for Father's Day 2004.
Happy Father’s Day America!