Luther Vandross Updates

In conjunction with a smooth jazz tribute CD for Luther Vandross due July 27, the Verve Music Group has set up a fund in his name through the American Diabetes Association. The label will also co-sponsor a letter-writing campaign beginning Aug. 3.

There are also conflicting opinions on the state of Vandross' health and what the diabetes-induced stroke he suffered means to his singing career.

LutherLive.jpgAlthough a tribute album for singer Luther Vandross by some of smooth jazz�s biggest names won�t be released until July 27, you can do something now to help support research into the disease that caused the singer�s stroke on April 16th, 2003. The Verve Music Group, which is releasing Forever, For Always, For Luther, has set up a fund in Luther�s name to support the American Diabetes Association as it works to find a cure and make a difference in the lives of millions of Americans with diabetes. If you�d like to make a tax-deductible donation, you can send it to:

American Diabetes Association
Forever, For Always, For Luther Fund
1701 North Beauregard St.
Alexandria, VA 22311

Mary Ida Vandross, Luther�s mother, said in a statement that she appreciates the support of musicians such as Boney James, Kirk Whalum, Mindi Abair, Richard Elliot, George Benson, Paul Jackson Jr., Dave Koz, Brian Culbertson and Rex Rideout, who contributed to the album. �I really enjoy and appreciate this wonderful jazz tribute to my son and his musical legacy,� she says. �I�m hoping that this album will touch you as it has me. And will help to keep Luther in the hearts and minds of his fans around the world.�

The Verve label has added the Write a Lover Letter to Luther campaign. The call to action will be featured inside the upcoming CD, in all advertising, online marketing and point-of-purchase at retail stores. The American Diabetes Association will also promote the campaign. Fans will be invited to send a note to Luther with a contribution to the For Always, For Always, For Luther fund. The letter-writing campaign will begin on Aug. 3rd. The letters will be collected and presented to Luther and his family.

In a related note, there are now plans to a tribute show for Vandross in New York sometime in October featuring many of the artists on the tribute album.

Meanwhile, there are conflicting opinions about Vandross' condition. Singer Richard Marx told the Associated Press he thinks it�s doubtful that Vandross will ever perform again. Marx co-wrote Vandross' smash hit �Dance With My Father.� But Fox News reported that Luther may be thinking of singing again. Luther made the announcement at a fund-raiser at famed Studio 54 in New York. At the event was Nile Rodgers, who created the disco group Chic. Fox News reported that, if he�s ready, Vandross may sing on a new Chic album that Rodgers is assembling for late fall.

�I do hope that Luther will be able to come back," says saxophonist Kirk Whalum, who has performed on numerous of his CDs. It�ll be a hard run, of course. I know a lot of people will be praying for him.�