Luther Vandross’s Niece Reveals Inspiration Behind His Love Songs — and Why He Never Spoke of Personal Life

The late R&B icon’s niece Seveda Williams opens up about his life and timeless music, including two re-released albums ahead of documentary ‘Never Too Much’ Luther Vandross’s niece knew the man, the myth and the legend

Published Time: 01.07.2024 - 01:31:17 Modified Time: 01.07.2024 - 01:31:17

The late R&B icon’s niece Seveda Williams opens up about his life and timeless music, including two re-released albums ahead of documentary ‘Never Too Much’

Luther Vandross’s niece knew the man, the myth and the legend.

“He was really a consummate professional, a man about his business and about making sure his audiences were satisfied and delighted,” Seveda Williams tells PEOPLE, opening up about her Grammy-winning late uncle in celebration of Black Music Month.

Williams, who leads Fandross, Luther Vandross’s fan club, is alsocelebrating the new re-release of the r&b icon’s second album This Close To You on vinyl, cd and digital. This follows the star’s first album Luther which was re-released in April.

“I know that he wanted to be known as a premier singer of his time and he accomplished that no question,” says Williams of the “Dance With My Father” crooner who died from health complications at 54. “They don’t make them like him anymore. He was the last, in my opinion, true king of romance. He had a magnificent voice, but he also wrote the lyrics, these heartfelt lyrics.” 

Best known for his smooth, sexy love songs, his niece says inspiration came from Vandross’s own life and experiences, but not necessarily his love life, which he was fiercely private about. 

“I think his depth of love came from his own situations and when you're young, he was writing before he was even in any type of relationship or anything. So he was not always singing about romantic love,” she says. 

"Most people assume it, but if you look at the lyrics of his songs, everything is not romantic. So it's about loving yourself, loving your mom, loving a situation that you're in. Everything’s not autobiographical.”

Williams says fans will soon learn a lot more about Vandross’s actual life, with the upcoming release of Never Too Much, a highly-anticipated documentary about Vandross’s life and career to be released in January of 2025, 20 years after his death.

The film will showcase Vandross’s singular talent and beloved performances as well as how -

he managed deeply personal struggles with fame, his fluctuating weight and questions surrounding his sexuality.

“I recently viewed it again and I enjoyed it a lot. I’m willing to stand behind it,” says Williams. “It's not going to be for everybody. I think it is very inclusive of everything and you'll get to see it and come up with your opinion. It doesn't hide anything. It hits many layers of who he is or was and how he got there and what happened for or to him.” 

When it comes to his romantic relationships and who he discussed that part of his life with, “He had his friends in his crew and nobody else needed to be a part of that,” says Williams. “If you are not my friend, why are we talking about certain things? Everything isn’t everybody’s business all of the time.” 

The film’s director Dawn Porter recently opened up to IndieWire about how she chose to address the discussion around his sexuality.

“What we tried to do was balance, here’s how Luther handled those questions in his life. But it was really, really important to me and I hope the viewer senses, I’m trying to honor how he lived, because it’s important to not out people when they do not want to be outed and when they did not choose that...I’m going to let him have the last word.” 

In February, Vandross’s estate asked Madonna to remove an image of the star from a montage of pictures shown during an AIDS tribute at her Celebration concert. “He was thrown up there, as far as I’m told, as a person who had passed away from AIDS,” says Williams. “Somebody didn’t do their research or someone likes messiness. If it’s incorrect information it shouldn’t be there. He passed away from a combination of stroke, diabetes and hypertension.”  

And according to Williams, who was by his side in the end, he never stopped doing what he loved. “He was singing up to the last minute,” she says. “I hope people see him as human, a man who had a great career, but a man who lived a life.” 

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