Patti LaBelle first met Luther Vandross backstage at the Apollo Theater over 50 years ago when she was part of The Blue Belles. The legendary soul singer remembered Vandross sneaking his way into their dressing room with various lavish dresses pretending to be a designer, but later realized he had a one-of-a-kind voice that would influence future singers.
In 2005, Vandross died of complications from a stroke. Since then, LaBelle has shared memories of her time with the “Always And Forever” artist — he was LaBelle’s first fan-club president – and recently revealed an intimate conversation the “If Only For One Night” vocalist had with her about his sexuality.
During an interview with Andy Cohen on Bravo’s Watch What Happens Live, LaBelle shared how Sam Smith’s presence reminds her of Vandross’ legendary artistry. “There are voices in this world and once they sing, it’s a stamp on everybody,” LaBelle said per Jezebel. “Luther did that and he’s done it.”
Cohen then asked the “On My Own” singer if Vandross struggled with publicly announcing his sexuality. “We talked about it. Basically, he did not want his mother to be – although she might have known, but he wasn’t going to come out and say this to the world,” LaBelle revealed. “And he had a lot of lady fans and he told me the he just didn’t want to upset the world.”
Watch the full interview below.