Luther Vandross

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Fewer artists elicit greater praise from music veterans than R&B legend Luther Vandross. The man with the velvet voice sang backups for everyone from Barbra Streisand to Chaka Khan. His reputation as a solo artist gained him enough clout to be invited to duets with Beyoncé, Mariah Carey and Janet Jackson, to name a few. "The Classic Christmas Album," released in 2012, recalls everything fans loved about him. A live album gave fans who'd never seen the multitalented singer in concert the chance to hear him lay down some of the impressive vocal theatrics for which he was famous. Vandross would take the listener on a journey, a tour to new musical heights without the need for any meandering ornamentation on his vocal lines. He was capable of a soaring, sing-it-from-the-mountain style, alternating to a softer than soft, vibrato-laden whisper that could give audience members chills down the spine. Anyone with a ticket to a Luther Vandross show was going to witness something one of a kind.

"The Classic Christmas Album" assembles Vandross' greatest holiday hits for a generation who never had the fortune of hearing them the first time around. A particular standout is his funky reworking of "My Favorite Things." Vandross was a prodigy, beginning piano at the age of three and being self-taught for most of his life. After graduating high school, he set his sights on the music business, eventually getting two of his compositions recorded. Soon, he became one of the most sought-after session vocalists. Anyone who was anyone knew his name. His first solo album, 1981's "Never Too Much," shot to number one and made Vandross a household name. The hit song from that album, "Don't You Know That," with its smooth groove, is a perfect example of why fans continue to adore him.