Dance with My Father (song)

"Dance with My Father" is the RIAA Gold-certified title track to singer and songwriter Luther Vandross' thirteenth studio album. With Richard Marx, Vandross wrote the song based on his personal experience. The lyrics recall childhood memories with Vandross' father, who used to dance with him and his mother.

"Dance with My Father"
Single by Luther Vandross
from the album Dance with My Father
ReleasedMay 30, 2003 (2003-05-30)
Luther Vandross singles chronology
"I'd Rather"
"Dance with My Father"
"Think About You"

Despite the lack of promotion due in part to Vandross' hospitalization, "Dance with My Father" became one of the most requested songs at the time. During the 2004 Grammy Awards, "Dance with My Father" earned Vandross the Song of the Year and Best Male R&B Vocal Performance accolades.

Composition and release

Vandross wrote "Dance with My Father" with Marx, based on his personal experience. Considered by Vandross as his "career song",[1] "Dance with my Father" is a tribute to his father, Luther Vandross, Sr., who died due to complications of diabetes. Vandross was seven when his father died. According to Marx, writing the song was emotional for Vandross because it is "a subject matter [Vandross] hadn't written before".[2]

On the backdrop of strings and interplay of piano and drums,[3] Vandross recalls fond memories with his late father who used to dance with his mother. Mary Ida, his mother, says, "I was amazed at how well Luther remembered his father, how we used to dance and sing in the house. I was so surprised that at 7 1/2 years of age, he could remember what a happy household we had."[4] Barry Walters of Rolling Stone magazine qualifies the memories invoked in the lyrics as painful and private, adding that when Vandross asks God to return his father, it "turn a potentially maudlin song into a meditative, deeply personal prayer".[5]

At the time of "Dance with My Father"'s release as a single on May 30, 2003, Vandross had been hospitalized due to his suffering from stroke. This timely release of the song gained attention from critics. On his review for the album, David Jeffries of AllMusic wrote that its release "makes the song's references to absent loved ones even more poignant".[6] For Larry Flick of The Advocate, it transformed the song into "a haunting composition rife with subtext".[3]


Although Vandross was unable to promote the latest project, "Dance with My Father" was able to reach number one on music stations. For instance, it achieved top position in WLTW, which was one of the first stations in the United States to play the track. Before his stroke, Vandross wrote to WLTW's program director, informing him of what he considered to be his "career song".[7] The director asked permission from the label, but it was not until after the hospitalization that J Records permitted the airplay, following the song being featured in Boston Public on April 28, 2003. "Dance with My Father" became one of the most requested songs at the time, spawning "a number of weepy phone calls and requests".[7]

In February 2004, "Dance with My Father" earned Vandross and Marx a Grammy Award for Song of the Year and Vandross a Grammy Award for Best Male R&B Vocal Performance. Marx accepted the award on behalf of Vandross, who was unable to attend due to health concerns. At the same event, singer Celine Dion agreed to performed a live rendition of the song in lieu of Vandross, and Marx accompanied her on the piano as she recently loss her father.[8] After the performance, Vandross however accepted the awards on a videotaped speech.[9]

With his death in 2005, "Dance with My Father" was the last top 40 hit for Luther Vandross in the United States, peaking at number 38. The song also peaked at 21 in the UK Singles Chart. On August 29, 2009, the song re-entered the UK top 40 after a performance of the song on The X Factor by Joe McElderry.

Music video

While Vandross was hospitalized, a music video was shot for the single. Hosting famous friends of his and fans alike, the clip features musicians, singers, actors and sport stars. The video features childhood snapshots of Vandross.[10]

Other celebrities who made cameos are Monica, Brian McKnight, Johnny Gill, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, Garcelle Beauvais, Damon Wayans, Holly Robinson Peete, Whitney Houston, Babyface, Morris Chestnut, Ashanti, Celine Dion, Nona Gaye, Patti LaBelle, Ruben Studdard, Brandy, Quincy Jones, Wyclef Jean, Wayne Brady and Shaquille O'Neal.

Versions and appearances

"Dance with My Father" has been released in various cover versions, appearing on many albums and music media formats.

  • Released in 2004, country music singer Kellie Coffey peaked at #41 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks (now Hot Country Songs) charts with her cover version; the song was to be included on a planned second studio album, A Little More Me, which ultimately went unreleased due to the single’s underperformance.
  • American singer, songwriter, and actor Luke James, as his character Noah Brooks, performed the song on a 2018 Season 2 episode of FOX television's musical drama series Star; a full recorded version was made available as a digital download-only single.


Chart (2003–04) Peak
UK Singles (Official Charts Company)[11] 21
US Billboard Hot 100[12] 38
US Adult Contemporary (Billboard)[13] 4
US Adult R&B Songs (Billboard)[14] 1
US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs (Billboard)[15] 28
Chart (2010) Peak
Austria (Ö3 Austria Top 40)[16] 42
Switzerland (Schweizer Hitparade)[17] 50


  1. Waldron, Clarence. "Luther Vandross". Jet. Johnson Publishing Company. 105: 63. ISSN 0021-5996. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  2. Billboard staffers (2004-02-21). "Billboard Goes to the Grammys". Billboard. Nielsen Business Media, Inc. 116: 69. ISSN 0006-2510. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  3. Flick, Larry (2003-09-04). "Dancing with Luther". The Advocate. Here Publishing: 59. ISSN 0001-8996. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  4. "Luther Vandross". Ebony. Johnson Publishing Company. 59: 79. November 2003. ISSN 0012-9011. Retrieved 2011-11-29.
  5. Walters, Barry (2003-06-03). "Luther Vandross: Dance with My Father". Rolling Stone. Jann S. Wenner. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  6. Jeffries, David. "Dance with My Father: Luther Vandross". Allmusic. Rovi Corporation. Retrieved 2011-11-30.
  7. Kaufman, Gil (2003-06-11). "Luther Vandross Moved Out Of Intensive Care". MTV News. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  8. "US singer-songwriter Richard Marx to hold concert at Big Dome". The Manila Bulletin. 2011-11-18. Archived from the original on 2012-01-09. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  9. Moss, Corey (2005-07-01). "R&B Singer Luther Vandross Dead At 54". MTV News. Retrieved 2011-12-01.
  10. "Vandross Video Features Famous Friends, Fans". Billboard. Retrieved 2012-01-02.
  11. "Official Singles Chart Top 100". Official Charts Company. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  12. "Luther Vandross Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  13. "Luther Vandross Chart History (Adult Contemporary)". Billboard. Retrieved August 28, 2018.
  14. "Luther Vandross Chart History (Adult R&B Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  15. "Luther Vandross Chart History (Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs)". Billboard. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  16. " – Luther Vandross – Dance with My Father" (in German). Ö3 Austria Top 40. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
  17. " – Luther Vandross – Dance with My Father". Swiss Singles Chart. Retrieved August 30, 2018.
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