Luther Vandross begins to emerge from coma. The singer is showing the first signs of consciousness since his stroke seven weeks ago

By Gary Susman
June 06, 2003 at 04:00 AM EDT
Luther Vandross: Mike Blake/Reuters/Newscom

After seven weeks in a stroke-induced coma, Luther Vandross is finally showing signs of consciousness, E! Online reports. ”He’s tracking. There are moments when he’s alert, when he can actually shake his head ‘yes’ or ‘no,”’ manager Carmen Romano said on Thursday.

The 52-year-old singer, whose new album ”Dance With My Father” hits stores on Tuesday, is still listed in critical-but-stable condition at New York’s Weill Cornell Medical Center. He began emerging last Thursday, May 29, Romano said. Those moments of consciousness are fleeting, and Vandross still can’t speak because of a tracheotomy tube. He remains on a respirator, and there’s no way of knowing when he might be released from intensive care, Romano said.

The singer’s mother, Mary Vandross, told the Associated Press that she blames his April 16 stroke on her son’s packed schedule and his binge eating. His weight, which has fluctuated wildly over the years, had risen recently, she says. ”I knew how hard he was struggling not to gain the weight,” she said. ”And yet he would eat uncontrollably.”