Luther Vandross confessed feelings of anger and depression but also of determination on Thursday’s edition of Oprah Winfrey’s show, in what marked the singer’s first interview since suffering his near-fatal stroke on Easter 2003.
“I was very depressed,” the Grammy winner, 52, said from at an East Coast rehabilitation center. “I was fit to be tied. It was a chore, coming back from the stroke. I was very depressed.”
Yet asked by Oprah if he intended to march on, Vandross, who is undergoing intense therapy sessions, replied: “Yeah. I’ll be singing at 80.”
He also admitted that he was not careful as far as controlling his diabetes, to the point of denying that the disease also claimed his father, brother and sister.
“It was something that I did, and I wish I hadn’t,” he said of not watching his sugar count. “It’s a very nifty, crafty disease. It seems like a soft disease at first. It’s anything but. It’s anything except that. What it does is it incapacitates you.” (When not kept in check, diabetes can cause blindness, kidney failure and gangrene in limbs that then need to be amputated.)
Vandross’s mother, Mary, also spoke to Oprah, saying that she refused to let her son die, staying with him in the hospital and talking to him, even when she wasn’t sure he was listening, and keeping up a prayer vigil.
“Had you seen him the first time, you would not have held out very much hope. He was totally out of everything,” said Mary Vandross, who last year (while Luther remained hospitalized) collected her son’s Grammy awards for his Dance With My Father.