Many artists dream of the opportunity to one day work with a person who inspired them, and for singer Luther Vandross that dream came true when he took on the role of producer for Aretha Franklin’s 1982 album Jump To It. Of course, this was no simple task. I mean, we’re talking the Queen of Soul, an artist who’d already released some thirty albums since the late 1950s and who was able to remain successful in spite of the changing musical trends of the previous two decades. However, the Vandross/Franklin chemistry allowed for the release of an album which complimented Franklin’s one of a kind voice while laden with Vandross’ signature style.
Along with the title track, tunes such as “It’s Just Your Love,” “Love Me Right” and “This Is For Real” were straight up Luther. The album also included tunes from old school veterans such as the song “Just My Daydream,” written by Smokey Robinson, and a cover of the Isley Brothers’ classic “It’s Your Thing.” Thanks to those tracks as well as some songwriting collaboration between Vandross and bass player Marcus Miller, along with a cast of musicians which included guitarist Doc Powell and keyboard players such as George Duke and Nat Adderley Jr., Jump To It became known as somewhat of a comeback album for Franklin, her first number one and gold album since the mid-1970s.
The single “Jump To It” is a funky dance track that spent a month at number one on the Hot Soul Singles chart, grooved its way to number four on the dance chart, hit the top forty on Billboard’s Hot 100 and earned a Grammy Award nomination for Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance, Female along with an American Music Award nomination for Favorite Soul/R&B Single. Meanwhile, the album peaked at number twenty-three on the pop chart, topped the R&B/hip-hop albums chart and earned an American Music Award for Favorite Soul/R&B Album.
Montrose Cunningham is a Dallas, Texas-based, independent funk/rock/soul artist and devoted music aficionado, with a Master of Science degree in Marketing. When he isn’t digging through the crates–digital and analog–he’s jamming with his band or hanging with his daughters, sometimes at the same time. Purchase his release Inertia at www.cdbaby.com/cd/montrose, follow him on Twitter @MontroseC and check out his blog, Daddy Rock Star.