Clive Davis' new label, J Records, has snared its first high-profile act: R&B singer Luther Vandross.
"I'm signing with Clive Davis' new company," Vandross confirmed Wednesday. "I'm the first signing."
"Oh, please! I'm so happy," chuckles Vandross, who hasn't released an album since 1998's overlooked I Know on Virgin Records. "That's what took so long. I waited for that particular scenario to run its course and develop correctly," he says. "It was worth it."
Vandross says he'll be signing the final touches on the contract next week, and will then begin work on his J Records debut. Currently on tour on a co-headlining bill with Boyz II Men, he has yet to write any songs or even get a good idea of what that record will sound like.
"Nah, that's the exciting part," says Vandross. "Right after the tour ends, I'm looking forward to getting down to business. It's all-consuming, the end of the tour and the next record company. That's got me pretty preoccupied."
As far as the controversy over Davis getting ousted at Arista Records, Vandross claims he doesn't know and doesn't care what happened. "It all turned out great, and that's all I really care to concern myself with," he says. "Who knows the dynamics of people and their associations? I can't speak on it because I'd only be speculating."
Vandross isn't exactly the first signing; Davis reportedly took Arista artists Deborah Cox, Q-Tip, Next, LFO, and Shannon Curfman with him when he left.
Vandross sees the label change as a new lease on life. And he also wants to make it clear that his own life is just fine, thank you.
Rumors have circulated over his dramatic weight loss in recent years. "I lost 114 pounds," says the svelte crooner. "People speculated as to whether I'm sick or dead. There was a rumor that I was dead! A real, live rumor! Everyone was calling: Patti LaBelle; Barry White called from Monte Carlo; Richard Marx. Everyone called, concerned. I don't know how that stuff happens, but I've never been healthier."
He also says that his weight loss in no way affected his vocal abilities. "I defy you to listen to any of my records and tell me if I was heavy or thin when I recorded it," he concludes. "In fact, when I'm thinner, I have much more stamina."