EDITOR'S NOTE: PLEASE FORWARD TO ANY AND ALL (INCLUDING "CELEBRITY PUBLICISTS/MANAGERS" WHOSE CLIENTS MAY WANT TO CONTRIBUTE TO THIS FEATURE). WE ARE LOOKING FOR A CROSS-SECTION OF PARTICIPANTS WHO WANT TO WEIGH IN ON LUTHER VANDROSS' INFLUENCE!!!!!
Already looking to create more 'pop culture and possibilities' in 2007, I have accepted an assignment from newly-designed and conceived UNeQ Magazine (which - in February - will feature an interview I conducted with "DIRTY LAUNDRY" director J. MAURICE JAMAL. www.dirtylaundrythemovie.com).
With your assistance, I need your assistance to build a magazine feature titled "WE ARE LUTHER"!!!!!!!!!!!!
Individually, I will need you (or your client) to fill in the blanks on the following by FRIDAY, MARCH 2ND!!!! (Just hit me back at PATARACK@HOTMAIL.COM anytime between now and then. If you need me to call and pull a response via phone, let me know. I am reachable at 201/440-2507).
JUST ANSWER THE FOLLOWING:
1. "I AM LUTHER because......." (fill in the blank [SEE EXPLANATION BELOW])* --- 50-to-100 words
2. "THAT'S MY SONG...." (fill in the blank your favorite LUTHER VANDROSS song [SEE EXPLANATION BELOW])* 25-to-50 words
6. PHONE NUMBER
7. PROFESSIONAL TITLE
EXAMPLE #1: "I AM LUTHER because - like him - I love all things girl groups, harmonies, divas, couture, and lush arrangements. I love layered and nuanced vocals. I live for Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, and Dionne Warwick. And when he sang most any song, he was singing about me or something I had experienced or would experience. WE ARE LUTHER."
Then, we will P.S. each select with: "THAT'S MY SONG!!!!" (as most black folks do when they hear that tune that makes them swoon from recognition or how that tune sounds or where they were when they first heard it or how it was on when they were making love, etc.).
EXAMPLE #2: "THAT'S MY SONG!!!": "ANY LOVE is my song. Luther wrote and sings: 'I speak to myself sometimes and I say "Oh my! In a lot of ways you're a lucky guy. Now all you need is a chance to try
Any love." How many times has this been my sentiment over the years, especially as a freshman in college when this song came out. It was before I came out of the closet and many times would be spent alone (whether in my head or my dorm room) for my not being daring enough to spend the evenings in my truth or not being authentic enough to be enjoying the company I would prefer keep. And inside of me was this yearning that Luther's words captured divinely. Though he murmurs "She'll come into my life" at the end of the tune, I always knew for my purposes that it was a "He" and that one day that love would come knocking on my door. And once I was ready to receive it (many years after college), I had to put a DO NOT DISTURB sign on my doorknob. Luther set the context and held LOVE up as a concept and a notion until I was courageous enough to have it be my reality.
Though LUTHER VANDROSS died July 1, 2005, one need listen no further than their local radio station to know the heavily-rotated degree to which he is still alive. Not only are we often hearing the classics like "Never Too Much", "A House is Not a Home", and "Dance with my Father". But posthumous releases like "Shine" and "Got You Home" are receiving lots of play, downloads, and ringtones.
It's funny! I saw Luther's best friend Fonzi Thornton on the opening night of The Ziegfeld Theater's preview run of "DREAMGIRLS" on December 15, 2006. It was before the movie started and for those - like him - who had not seen it, Fonzi was just overcome with excitement and emotion. "I've waited 25 years for this moment," said Fonzi, clearly giving me a run for my money as 'the biggest DREAMGIRLS fan' (I knew I would see the film 12 times before the end of the year). He added "Patrick, I sure wish Luther was here to enjoy all of this.". In that moment, my heart sank with sadness. But a couple of seconds later, I regained composure and thought to offer a comforting reply to Fonzi. "Luther is here.". Fonzi knodded his head and after a hug, we parted ways to our respective seats. As I reflected on that moment with Fonzi (from my seat), I thought to myself how many times I said "I wish Luther was here". I said it at THE LEGENDS ball as I knew that an event paying homage to his favorite divas - like Aretha Franklin, Dionne Warwick, and Diana Ross - had his name written all over it. Like me, he would have been like a kid in a candy store (even though he had personal relationships with many of the honorees). And now, with Miss Ross releasing an album of classic and contemporary love songs, I would want to know what Luther's thoughts are about the project as he wanted to produce a complete album of his magic for her (even though he did have the chance to produce one romantic ballad for her: "It's Hard For Me To Say" from her 1987 "Red Hot Rhythm & Blues" album and background vocals on two other tunes "So Close" from 1982's "Silk Electric" and "You Love" from 1993's "Forever Diana"). And I thought to myself that there will continue to be many, many times to wish Luther was here. Moreover, there will continue to be times in which I will channel Luther and know --- like when he was alive --- that "I am Luther..." or, for sure, like Luther. The Creator used many of the same ingredients in Luther as me --- a touch of romance, too much sensitivity, loads of love, lots of longing, pockets of sadness, appreciation of beauty, grasp of melody, and, wherever possible, never-too-distant joy.
In a flash, while still at the Ziegfeld awaiting "Dreamgirls" to start, I snapped out of the should-haves and the would-haves and looked at the sea of energetic faces in the plush home of all things "movie premieres", and I felt like I saw "Luther" all over the theater --- in the faces of the black men, white men, Asian women, Latino men, and all of the above, who waited with baited breath to see this historic film. "Luther" stood for what we all continue to stand for in our daily lives. In large part, that sold-out audience of 2,500 and I were all "Luther" that night because "Dreamgirls" is clearly the type of pop culture that Luther would enjoy just as the many demographics of people under that rooftop would - whether industry folks, theater enthusiasts, or just fans from Queens or The Bronx (Luther has been all of these). And as he often searched for a crossover appeal that is best demonstrated inside of "record sales", his reach went beyond the Billboard Pop Charts and transcended any industry prize. And it's that unique yet ubiquitous quality that is why Luther is as much alive today as when he was actually healthy and breathing. And with that, I want us all to celebrate how "WE ARE LUTHER"... and LIFT HIM UP!!!!
Patrick L. Riley