21 years ago today, Luther Vandross released his final album “Dance with My Father.”

Written by on 11 June, 2024

Lately, his name has resurfaced on the music scene, exciting fans and inviting new audiences to learn more about the groundbreaking R&B singer/songwriter. We revisit the events that led to his last album and, ultimately, his biggest hit.

As celebrate the fathers and father figures of this coming Sunday, 16 June 2024, From The Vault journeys back to 2003, when one of the founding fathers of modern R&B was releasing his final album. Today’s pick is ‘Dance With My Father’ by the late, great Luther Vandross.

‘Dance’ was one of many acclaimed gems that could be found on the  four-time GRAMMY-winning album of the same name. Written by Vandross and Richard Marx, it dealt centered on happy childhood memories the singer had of his dad – who died due to complications of diabetes.

The Grape Juice Magazine states that, he was hospitalized at the time of the song’s release, Vandross wasn’t able to promote it. Still, it became one of the most requested songs at the time, and was a Top 40 hit on the Billboard Hot 100. It topped the Adult R&B Songs charts and peaked at #21 in the UK.

The video for the jam was shot while the singer was still hospitalized. It featured various famous friends of his, some appearing with their fathers, some with their kids and others alone with pictures of them and their deceased loved ones. Beyoncé, Monica, Brian McKnight, Babyface, Stevie Wonder, and Celine Dion all appear alongside many others.

Throwback images of Luther are also shown throughout the visual.

Before he passed in 2005, Luther Vandross was able, with this song and parent album, to remind the world that it was his unique brand of R&B that birthed a plethora of chart-topping artists. Put simply, that he was your favorite artist’s favorite artist.

In the making of this iconic song, he states that, “My mum lost her father a few years ago. Every time this song would play on the radio, she would think about him and how much she would want to dance with her father again. Now, when the song plays, my dad (her husband) dances with her instead- to remind her that she is not alone in her grief”.
Back when I was a child
Before life removed all the innocence
My father would lift me high
And dance with my mother and me and then
Spin me around till I fell asleep
Then up the stairs he would carry me
And I knew for sure I was loved
If I could get another chance
Another walk, another dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again, ooh
When I and my mother would disagree
To get my way I would run from her to him
He’d make me laugh just to comfort me, yeah, yeah
Then finally make me do just what my momma said
Later that night when I was asleep
He left a dollar under my sheet
Never dreamed that he would be gone from me
If I could steal one final glance, one final step
One final dance with him
I’d play a song that would never ever end
‘Cause I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again
Sometimes I’d listen outside her door
And I’d hear how my mother cried for him
I pray for her even more than me
I pray for her even more than me
I know I’m praying for much too much
But could you send back the only man she loved?
I know you don’t do it usually
But dear Lord she’s dying to dance with my father again
Every night I fall asleep and this is all I ever dream

Despite not being able to properly promote Dance With My Father, the success of the album earned Vandross four more Grammy Awards, including Song of The Year and Best R&B Album, where he accepted the awards in a pre-taped video segment. By then, his last album had already been certified double platinum.

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