Vandross Prepping Spring Album For Clive's New Label

He's released 13 platinum or double-platinum albums in his career, but R&B superstar Luther Vandross thinks he can do better.

His recent signing to J Records, former Arista Records boss Clive Davis' new label, "is going to turn the mother out,'' Vandross said, meaning that he expects crossover pop success for his new album, due in late spring.

"It's the biggest pleasure dealing with J Records,'' Vandross said. "The whole staff and Clive, you have to have people around you whose vision of your career is as large as your own, and till now, that may have not been the case.''

Vandross — whose solo cross-country tour began November 21 in Rochester, New York — said producer Warren Campbell (Kelly Price's Mirror, Mirror, Sisqó's Unleash the Dragon), Naughty by Nature and Next producer Kay Gee and Next singer R.L. are lending their skills to the album.

Vandross, whose most recent album was 1998's I Know,

has built a successful career over the last 20 years by being a straight-up, romantic R&B singer and by not jumping on flashy trends.

Therefore, don't expect Vandross to have any hip-hop tracks on his new record.

"I'll never do anything that someone else does better, and there are people whose passion is hip-hop,'' Vandross said. "I'm not going to try to out Bobby Brown Bobby Brown or try to out hip-hop insert whatever-name-you-like.

"I like hip-hop music, but that's for those who do it well to do, not for me,'' Vandross continued. "Even if I could do it well, that's for those who live and breathe and inhale it to do. That not what I inhale.''

Vandross recently completed a co-headlining tour with younger R&B heartthrobs Boyz II Men.

The Bronx, New York-raised Vandross worked his way up the ranks as a backup singer and received his break on David Bowie's 1975 Young Americans album, for which he co-wrote the song "Fascination".

His 1981 debut solo album, Never Too Much, heralded the arrival of a stately, suave and sophisticated tenor. Vandross' hits include "Here and Now,'' "Power of Love/Love Power'', "Don't Want To Be a Fool'' and an interpretation of the Carpenters' "Superstar.''

The 49-year old Vandross has been sporting a new look as of late. The singer, who has struggled with his weight throughout his career, has lost 125 pounds and has kept it off for the past two years.

"It's fantastic,'' Vandross said. "I, as an obese person, had high blood pressure and diabetes, high cholesterol, the whole nine yards. I now am on no medication for any reason whatsoever, none whatsoever. I have reversed all of the ailments with my weight loss. I'm one of the lucky ones, who, when he loses weight, totally reverses his health pattern.''

Vandross worked hard to lose the weight. He takes five aerobic workouts a week, which includes plenty of time on the treadmill.

"What

you do is you put on the Supremes' greatest hits, and by the time you get to "Someday We'll Be Together,' it's an hour and 15 minutes later,'' said Vandross of how he survives the treadmill. "That's how it works for me.''