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'Dance With My Father'

The Early Show, Mrs. Vandross
CBS/The Early Show
Luther Vandross' new CD "Dance With My Father" hit store shelves this week. But there will be none of the personal promotion that usually accompanies an album release because the 53-year-old R&B great is still recovering from a massive stroke.

Despite her son's illness, Mary Vandross gave the go ahead to release the CD and she spoke with The Early Show co-anchor Rene Syler about her son's condition.

"He's doing excellent," said Mrs. Vandross. "He's beginning to form words and make contact. His responses are so wonderful that even the doctors stand in awe."

She notes that on Mother's Day she recited Psalm 23 for him and from there on, things started to change. She recalled, "When I said, 'Amen,' he said, 'Mama.' So, of course, you know I boo-hooed."

Coping with her son's illness has been very difficult for Mrs. Vandross. She says, "I lost first my husband to diabetes and then my oldest son, my mother, my oldest daughter, my one and only grandson. They were all diabetics."

So when Luther went into diabetic coma, she was thinking, "Not again." She says, "For the first time, I said, 'Lord how can I stand this?' I got very angry because he's lost the weight. His diabetes is under control. And I think I actually accepted the fact that he could leave, also."

But she says she no longer fears her son could die, based on the progress Luther has made. She credits her faith: "It works. You know, I would like to take the world in my arms and all those people who said, 'I'm praying for your son.' And I do believe that they meant it."

To them she would say, "When I get to crying and bubbling, I would say, thank God for you and thank you for thinking enough of my son to pray for him. And he's going to be all right. Your prayers meant something."

Mrs. Vandross says the doctors were at first cautiously optimistic. "Now they're satisfied. They said that he's ready for rehabilitation."

A major problem for him has been his weight. Mrs. Vandross had pleaded with him to keep it under control.

She says, "He went to Hawaii and he called from Hawaii. He says, 'Mama, my diabetics is out of control. I have been eating like there's no tomorrow. Please pray for me."

She can't understand what went wrong this time. "Luther would put himself on a diet, and he would put his weight down. I don't know what happened this time. I really don't know what happened."

In spite of her son illness, Mrs. Vandross says she felt it was important to go ahead and release his album. She says, "Because he wanted to. That was his hope. I think it has a lot of clocks."

"Dance With My Father," she says, is very timely. Before suffering his stroke, Luther Vandross dedicated the CD to his father, who died from complications of diabetes.