Luther Vandross' Mother Says Her Son Steadily Improving

Singer has not regained consciousness in three weeks.

Luther Vandross was "touch and go" following his stroke three weeks ago, but

is steadily improving, according to his mother, Mary Vandross.

"Right after the stroke, he was in grave danger; it was very touch and go," Mary

Vandross said in a statement issued Monday (May 12). "But I feel that it is just a matter

of time before he improves and to me, his appearance gets better daily. It's

a very slow process."

The singer, 52, was forced to undergo a tracheotomy two weeks ago to assist his

breathing after contracting pneumonia (see "Vandross Undergoes Tracheotomy, Remains In Critical Condition"). The singer remains in critical but stable condition, according to a hospital spokesperson, and has shown no signs of consciousness since he was found in his New York apartment several hours after suffering a stroke on

April 16.

Mary Vandross makes the trip to the intensive care unit at New York's Weill

Cornell Medical College hospital every few days from her home in Philadelphia.

She said she's been overwhelmed by the support from the singer's friends and

admirers, including the Rev. Jesse Jackson, whom she calls "almost

every day to pray with me."

Though Vandross remains unresponsive, Mary Vandross said she and the singer's

nieces play music and talk to him all day long, spinning such favorites as

Aretha Franklin and Dionne Warwick as well as his own music. Among the songs

they play for Vandross is the title track to his upcoming album, Dance

With My Father, which Mary said her son told her was the best

song he has ever written. "In fact, right after he wrote 'Dance With My

Father' he called me and he said, 'Mama, I wrote a song for you and daddy,

I'm going to bring it and see what you think,' " she said.

The album is still slated for release on June 10. "Knowing how he loves this

new album, I believe Luther would want it to come out now and I'm so grateful

that he can get this chance," she said. "He is going to recover and when he

does, I want him to be greeted with a big success story. He has to recover,

he's all I have left, he's my last surviving child."

Aretha Franklin is hosting a candlelight vigil and prayer service for

Vandross May 19 at 6:30 p.m at the Little Rock Baptist Church in Detroit. Joining

Franklin will be the Ebenezer Mass Choir, her sons, Eddie and Kecalf, and the

Four Tops.