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Vandross Making Progress

Singer's recovery slow but steady

August 13, 2003 12:00 AM ET

R&B singer Luther Vandross's condition continues to improve following the stroke he suffered in April. According to his J Records spokeswoman, Vandross' speech and cognitive functions are the "most exciting developments." "Everyday there's something new" that he's able to say, she says.

Also, Vandross responds when his music is played and "occasionally sings along."

But despite reports that Vandross has regained nearly all of his speech, his spokeswoman cautions that it's "still a long road ahead."

The singer has been hospitalized in New York since the April 16th stroke, spending nearly two months in the intensive care unit. He had a major breakthrough and moved out of the ICU in June, a week before his latest album Dance With My Father debuted at the top of the pop charts.

Vandross' long-term prognosis remains positive; his spokeswoman says that when the hospital stay is over, he'll be moved to a facility to continue the long rehab process.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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