Luther Vandross (April 20, 1951 – July 1, 2005) was an American R&B and soul singer-songwriter, and record producer. During his career, Vandross sold over twenty-five million albums and won eight Grammy Awards including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four times. He won four Grammy Awards in 2004 including the Grammy Award for Song of the Year for the track "Dance with My Father", co-written with Richard Marx.
Born on the Lower East Side of Manhattan in New York City in the Smith Housing Project, Vandross began playing the piano at the age of three. He grew up in a musical family that moved to the Bronx when he was thirteen. His sister Patricia sang with vocal group The Crests, who had a number two hit in 1958 with "Sixteen Candles", though she left the group before the recording. Vandross' father died of diabetes when Vandross was eight years old. Luther Vandross was in a high school group, Shades of Jade, that once played at the Apollo Theater in Harlem. He was also a member of a theater workshop, "Listen My Brother" who released the singles "Only Love Can Make a Better World" and "Listen My Brother", and appeared on the second and fifth episodes of Sesame Street in November 1969.
Vandross attended Western Michigan University for a year before dropping out to continue pursuing a career in music.