Thu | Jan 24, 2019

Della Reese will be missed - Hailed as one of the most outstanding female performers of traditional pop era

Published:Wednesday | December 13, 2017 | 12:00 AMRoy Black
Della Reese (left) and Raven star in 'That's So Raven' on Disney Channel.

One of the most versatile individuals in the entertainment business, Della Reese, passed away on November 19, following close on the heels of Fats Domino, who made the transition 27 days earlier.

The multi-talented black female sensation amazingly played the roles of actress (in several television and screen appearances), recording artiste, talk-show hostess, and a game show panelist, while still being an ordained minister of religion. Unlike many of her contemporaries, Reese was deep into traditional pop, latin, gospel, and jazz music.

Her gospel background, which had a profound influence on her career, saw her becoming a member of her church choir in Detroit Michigan, from as early as age six. By age 13, Reese had mastered almost every area of the gospel art. It was at that age she was hired as a member of Mahalia Jackson's gospel group. A few years later, she formed her own gospel group - The Meditation Singers - and slowly marched into the limelight.

Born Delloreese Patricia Early in Detroit, Michigan, on July 6, 1931, the female dynamo excelled in all the disciplines she attempted, but was perhaps best known as a recording artiste, who had flawless enunciation and a powerful voice that commanded attention from the moment she sounded her first note. A number of undistinguished recordings, and a few pop club appearances, announced her early public presence. But when she recorded And That Reminds Me in 1957 for Jubilee Records, the writing was on the wall. It climbed to number nine on the weekly Billboard chart and became her first hit recording. Two years later, her million-selling smash, Don't You Know, rose to number two on the US pop singles chart. She followed up with other notable cuts - Not One Minute More, Everyday, Someday (You'll want me to want you), It's Magic and After Loving You - which were very popular at home and abroad.

During her illustrious career, Reese had headlined almost every major club in the US, Canada, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. And when everyone thought she was finished, Reese returned late in her career to garner a whole new generation of fans when she played the lead role in the inspirational television drama, Touched By An Angel, for which she received multiple awards. This, along with several Grammy and Emmy awards, makes her, perhaps, the most outstanding female performer of the traditional pop era.