In July 2005, the world said goodbye to legendary singer, songwriter and producer Luther Vandross. A new boxed set, Love, Luther, commemorates the late R&B icon's illustrious career. Gayle talks with Luther's mother, Mary Ida Vandross, and his best friend, Fonzi Thornton, about remembering Luther and his musical legacy.
After Luther passed away, Mary Ida says that listening to her son's music became a bittersweet experience. The decision to create a commemorative boxed set of Luther's music was difficult because of her grief, but it's a tribute she says she couldn't be happier to give her son. "I'm overjoyed to know that people remember him so well," she says. "I often said to [Luther], 'Because you love your audience so, I think they're showing you love [back].'"
Fonzi Thornton was Luther's best friend and lead backup singer. Having met when they were just teenagers, Fonzi says he and Luther shared a strong, lifelong friendship—they grew up together, entered the music industry together and collaborated professionally. Fonzi says the Luther he knew was a man of integrity, intelligence and great talent. "He had this vision, he knew where he was going, and we wanted to be with him," he says.
Fonzi says he's glad that Love, Luther showcases the many facets of Luther's talent over the course of his career. In fact, he says Luther wanted to be remembered for more than his sultry romantic ballads that garnered him the reputation of "Love Doctor." "He really wanted to be known for the skill and the craftsmanship [and] for his ability as a singer," he says. "There's nobody that sings like him."