Song of the Day: Luther Vandross “Searching”
What happens when a French-Italian Disco-inspired duo meet “The Velvet Voice” of Luther Vandross on a trans-national 1980 debut production?
Luther Vandross has been a household name since the early 1980’s, but most of us have no idea of the twists, turns and changes this man had to go through to find success as a solo artist. The song “Searching,” along with “The Glow of Love“, turned out to be breakthrough hits for Vandross (as well as the ‘duo’ in question) after many years of working tirelessly as a composer and back-up singer for a stunning list of popular artists (including the likes of Chic, David Bowie and Chaka Khan, as well as an impressive list of major companies (whom he wrote jingles for). These two iconic songs, from the 1980 debut album by an Italian-American post-disco group called Change, owe their fruition, in part, to the French-Italian business man and Italian-Disco pioneer, Jacques Fred Petrus.
Originally from the island of Guadeloupe, Petrus made his way to Paris as a 15 year old diesel engine mechanic onboard a cargo ship. In Paris, he worked as a DJ for many years, at jet-set clubs such as Club Saint Hilaire, before relocating to Milan Italy, where he teamed up with composer/producer Mauro Malavasi to form Goody Music Productions, and the group, Change. After a number of former attempts, they eventually found international and chart topping success when they wedded their slick productions to Vandross‘ golden pipes and impassioned lyrical delivery. Did I mention that I just love the groove on this song?
Luther Ronzoni Vandross Jr. was born on April 20th 1951 on the island of Manhattan, growing up on the Lower East Side, before moving to the Bronx at the age of 9. His father, Luther Vandross Sr., was an upholsterer and singer and his mother, Mary Ida Vandross, was a nurse. Vandross Jr. taught himself to play piano by ear from the age of 3, with the help of his very own phonograph record player to guide him. His sisters Pat (a singer herself and member of the vocal group The Crests) and Ann, began bringing him to the famed Apollo Theater, where he eventually performed multiple times on amateur night and was booed by the audience. He eventually began finding work as a back-up vocalist, and composer. In addition to the numerous artists he worked with, he composed and performed jingles for companies such as NBC, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Juicy Fruit, and Burger King.
After over eight solid years of relentless composing, recording and performing (mostly behind other artists), Vandross finally found his success as a solo artist. In his lifetime, he went on to sell over 35 million records worldwide and won eight Grammy awards, before his untimely death in July of 2005 at the age of 54. He continues to influence and inspire generations of singers, musicians, and fans worldwide with one of the most incredible, unforgettable, and original voices of all time.