The Luther and Mary Ida Vandross Fund
Established in 2010 and sustained through royalties from the late R&B artist’s music, this fund supports students attending historically African-American colleges and New York Theological Seminary.
The Difference It Makes
Too many students drop out during the final years of pursuing an undergraduate degree due to lack of financial resources.
The Luther and Mary Ida Vandross Fund provides full tuition scholarships to such students who are in good academic standing and who show financial need.
Students from the church where both Luther and Mary Ida worshipped are able to complete the Masters of Divinity program at New York Theological Seminary.
The fund also supports dozens of annual scholarships so students can graduate from historically African-American four-year colleges and universities throughout the United States.
Remembering A Legend and A Health Activist
Luther Vandross was one of the most successful R&B artists of the 1980s and 90s, known for his distinctive interpretations of classic pop and R&B songs, and his smooth, versatile tenor.
His mother, Mary Ida, was a noteworthy advocate of healthy living and preventive testing for diabetes and other chronic diseases.
This fund honors Luther’s numerous musical achievements and his mother’s dedication to her church, community and cause.
It is a meaningful way to ensure their impact is not forgotten.
A Flourishing Career
Luther briefly attended Western Michigan University before leaving to pursue a career in music.
He began by singing backup to such superstars as Diana Ross, Roberta Flack, Donna Summer and Barbara Streisand.
He produced Aretha Franklin’s 1982 LP and co-wrote four of its eight songs.
His own singles began topping the R&B charts in the 1980s, including the number one “Love Me Right.”
By the 1990s, he sang the National Anthem during Super Bowl XXXI, and later performed a popular rendition of Michael Jackson’s hit song, “Man in the Mirror.”
In the precarious, ever-changing world of pop music, he would sell records in the millions consistently for decades.
A Mother’s Love
Luther had grown up in the housing projects in Lower Manhattan with his parents and four sisters. He started playing the piano at age 3.
He was 7 when his father died and his mother moved the family to the Bronx for a safer neighborhood.
After Luther suffered a career-ending stroke, his mother regularly visited him every day until his death two years later.
His loss – and that of her husband, three other children and a grandson, all to complications of diabetes and asthma -- galvanized her to encourage awareness of triggers like stress and obesity that can contribute to such diseases.
One of Luther’s early hits was “Who Gonna Make It Easier For Me?”
The Luther and Mary Ida Vandross Fund does just that for many promising students.