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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 July, 2005, 07:47 GMT 08:47 UK
Fans say last goodbye to Vandross
Luther Vandross fans
Fans waited for up to 10 hours to view Vandross' casket in New York
Hundreds of fans have joined family and friends to pay their respects to soul singer Luther Vandross in New York.

Crowds queued for up to 10 hours outside a Manhattan funeral chapel to view his closed casket in the first of two days of public visitation.

Vandross, 54, died on Friday, two years after suffering a stroke.

Singers Patti LaBelle, Teddy Pendergrass and Roberta Flack and actress Cicely Tyson also paid their respects alongside Vandross' family.

Transatlantic hits

An alcove alongside the coffin was decorated with photographs of the New York-born singer.

It was also decked out with plaques commemorating his record sales and eight sequinned jackets in which he performed.

Vandross sold more than 20 million albums worldwide, with transatlantic hit singles including Never Too Much and So Amazing.

Luther Vandross
Every song he sang had meaning behind it and the message was love
Odessa Hamie
He battled diabetes and weight fluctuations before suffering his debilitating stroke in 2003.

Fan Nancy Marble from Boston and two friends were first in the queue outside the Frank E Campbell chapel.

"We love him," Ms Marble said. "He's the best entertainer. He has charisma. He's a sexy, honest and generous, loving person, and he deserved a lot more happiness than he got in his life."

Another fan, Odessa Hamie, added: "I came to pay my respects to a great singer, a great songwriter and a great human being. Every song he sang had meaning behind it and the message was love."

A memorial service for Vandross will be held on Friday at Manhattan's Riverside Church. He will then be buried at George Washington Memorial Park in Paramus, New Jersey.

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