Sony Music Entertainment’s (SME) Premium Content Division, Sony Music Publishing, Foxxhole Productions, and Raindog Films are teaming to produce the first-ever feature-length documentary on legendary singer Luther Vandross’s life and illustrious career. Production is already underway. From award-winning filmmaker Dawn Porter, the documentary will follow the iconic artist as he charted his own course becoming one of the most decorated and influential pop artists of all time. In partnership with Trilogy Films and the Estate of Luther Vandross and Estate partner Primary Wave Music, with full support and participation of his closest friends and family and access to his never-before-seen personal archive, the film will capture the intensely private Grammy®-winning artists’ passion for music, global rise, and personal struggles.
Through the directorial lens of Porter, the documentary will show how Vandross’ distinct talent allowed him to mold his own career and interpretation of R&B music. Most recently, Porter directed The Ladybird Diaries, which premiered at SXSW and was awarded the Lone Star Award for documentary film, John Lewis: Good Trouble, which was nominated for an Emmy and won Best Historical/Biographical Documentary at the 2020 Critic’s Choice Awards, and The Way I See It about President Obama’s White House photographer Pete Souza which was nominated for an Emmy. Porter also directed Bobby Kennedy for President for Netflix, and Trapped, which won the Special Jury Social-Impact Prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
“Luther is one of our GOAT’s” said Foxx. “He’s one of the greatest singers in the history of music. It is truly an honor to be a part of the team to help bring this incredible story to the masses.”
“Like so many, I have always loved Luther’s music, but I had no idea of the breadth and scope of his artistry,” said Porter. “I think people will be surprised at how much he accomplished in his tragically short life. It is a joy to be able to share his true story.”
After beginning his career singing background vocals with legendary artists such as Roberta Flack, Chaka Khan, Bette Midler, Diana Ross, and David Bowie, and being a go-to voice of commercial jingles in the 1970’s, Vandross began his solo career on Epic Records in 1981 with the debut album, Never Too Much, which sold more than one-million copies. Throughout his career, having sold more than 40-million records worldwide, Luther went on to receive 33 Grammy® nominations, winning eight, including Best Male R&B Vocal Performance four different times and Song Of The Year in 2004 for “Dance With My Father”. Having released 11 consecutive Platinum albums, 13 platinum overall, eight of which went on to reach #1 on the Billboard R&B charts, Vandross was a force in the industry and set musical standards for a generation. He was born in New York City and began singing in groups in high school, performing at the world-famous Apollo Theater and appearing on early episodes of Sesame Street. A musical perfectionist, Vandross was admired by vocalists around the world including many of today’s great artists, some consider him the gold standard in love songs. He died on July 1, 2005 from complications due to a stroke two years prior, but his legacy lives on.
Sony Music Entertainment’s Premium Content group is distributing the film. The idea for the film was originated by Trish D Chetty and Ged Doherty and alongside Colin Firth they serve as producers for Raindog Films. Jamie Foxx and Datari Turner serve as producers for Foxxhole Productions. Leah Smith serves as producer for Trilogy Films. Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman are executive producers for Sony Non-Fiction television. Tom Mackay and Richard Story join as executive producers for Sony Music Entertainment. Jon Platt and Brian Monaco serve as executive producers for Sony Music Publishing. Phil Thornton serves as an executive producer. Larry Mestel and Natalia Nastaskin serve as executive producers on behalf of Estate Partner, Primary Wave Music
Krista Wegener of Sony Music Entertainment’s Premium Content team will lead global sales for the film.