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Della Reese

Renowned as both a television star and a top-flight interpreter of jazz, blues, R&B, gospel, and straight-ahead pop music, Della Reese's many talents have ensured a long, varied, and legendary show biz career. In addition to being nominated for both an Emmy and a Grammy and receiving a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Reese is also an ordained minister in the Universal Foundation for Better Living, an association of churches she helped found in the early '80s.

Born Deloreese Patricia Early on July 6, 1931, the young Reese began singing in the Baptist church choir in her hometown of Detroit at age six. In 1945, having developed quite rapidly, she caught the ear of legendary gospel queen Mahalia Jackson, who invited Reese to join her touring choir; Reese did so for the next five summers. Upon entering Wayne State University to study psychology, Reese formed a women's gospel group, the Meditation Singers, but her college career was cut short by the death of her mother and her father's serious illness. Reese worked odd jobs to help support the rest of her family; she also continued to perform with the Meditation Singers and various other gospel groups. Encouraged by her pastor, Reese began singing in night clubs in hopes of getting a singing career off the ground; recently married to a factory worker named Vermont Adolphus Bon Taliaferro, her name was too long to fit on marquees, and she eventually arrived at her performing alias by splitting up her first name. After impressing a New York agent, who promptly signed her, Reese moved to New York and joined the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra in 1953. A year later, she had a recording contract with Jubilee, for whom she scored hits like "And That Reminds Me," a 1957 million-seller.

Switching to RCA Victor, Reese landed her biggest hit in 1959 with "Don't You Know?," a song adapted from Puccini's La Bohème; this cemented her career, leading not only to plentiful appearances on variety shows, but successful nightclub tours of the country and eventually nine years of performances in Las Vegas, as well as recording contracts with a variety of labels over the next few decades.

Building on her previous variety show experience, Reese made a small bit of television history in 1969 when she became the first woman to guest-host The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Later that year, she became the first black woman to host her own variety show, the syndicated Della, which ran until 1970. Following its cancellation, Reese returned to her night club tours, often putting in guest appearances on television shows like The Mod Squad, Sanford and Son, and Chico and the Man; after three prior failed marriages, Reese also found a lasting relationship with producer Franklin Lett, whom she married in 1978.

On October 3, 1980, while taping a song for The Tonight Show, Reese suffered a brain aneurysm which nearly proved fatal; however, thanks to a successful operation, she was able to make a full recovery. She kept up her singing career and appeared on television shows like Designing Women, L.A. Law, and Picket Fences, as well as the Eddie Murphy films Harlem Nights and The Distinguished Gentleman. Most recently, Reese starred in the Redd Foxx sitcom The Royal Family from 1991-1992, and in the inspirational drama series Touched by an Angel. ~ Steve Huey
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: Waltz With Me, Della

1. Wonderful One

2. Tenderly

3. Falling In Love With Love

4. What'll I Do

5. I Love You

6. The Song From Moulin Rouge (Where Is Your Heart)

7. Always

8. Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)

9. I'll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time

10. While We're Young

11. I'll Always Be In Love With You

12. The Anniversary Waltz

x

Track List: Black Is Beautiful

1. Games People Play

2. Compared To What

3. Choice Of Colors

4. Get Together

5. With Pen In Hand

6. Comment

7. Proud Mary

8. You Know How Love Is

9. Cycles

10. If Everybody In The World Loved Everybody In The World

x

Track List: When I Fall in Love

1. When I Fall in Love

2. That's All

x

Track List: What Do You Know About Love

1. What Do You Know About Love

2. I'm Nobody's Baby

x

Track List: Touch Me Again

1. When I Fall In Love

2. That's All

3. Come Rain Or Come Shine

4. Love Me Tender

5. Touch Me Again

6. Morning Comes To Soon

7. The Air That We Breath

8. Wrapped Up In The Comfort Of You

9. Two Together

10. Sure Like Lovin You

11. It’s All Over Now

12. Stormy Weather

13. Pennies From Heaven

14. All Of Me

15. My Melancholy Baby

16. In The Still Of The Nights

x

Track List: Amen!

1. Amen!

2. Jesus Will Answer Your Prayer

3. Last Mile Of The Way

4. Nobody Know The Trouble I've Seen

5. Rock-A-My Soul

6. Hard To Get Along

7. Up Above My Head I Hear Music In The Air

8. I Know The Lord Has Laid His Hand On Me

9. Jesus

x

Track List: And That Reminds Me

1. And That Reminds Me

2. The More I See You

3. Time After Time

4. Daybreak Serenade

5. I Only Want To Love You

6. I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm

7. In The Still Of The Night

8. Years From Now

9. C'mon C'mon

10. If Not For You

11. By Love Possessed

12. I Wish

x

Track List: The Angel Sings...

1. Only The Strong Survive

2. With Pen In Hand

3. Games People Play

4. If It Feels Good Do It

5. What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life?

6. Simple Song Of Freedom

7. I Believe In Music

8. Billy My Love

9. We're Gonna' Make It

10. Love Story

11. Brand New Day

12. So Many Ways To Love A Man

13. Leftover Wine

14. Macarthur Park

15. Love I've Been Looking For

x

Track List: Voice Of An Angel

1. I'm Beginning To See The Light

2. Baby Won't You Please Come Home

3. Guess I'll Hang My Tears Out To Dry

4. I'm Just A Lucky So And So

5. Here's That Rainy Day

6. Little Girl Blue

7. And Now

8. Two Sleepy People (From The Film "Thanks For The Memory")

9. The End Of A Love Affair

10. I'll Get By

11. How Did He Look

12. All By Myself

13. I Had The Craziest Dream

14. Let's Get Away From It All

15. Always

16. Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)

17. These Foolish Things

18. Call Me

19. And The Angels Sing

20. Don't You Know

x

Track List: Special Delivery

1. Bill Bailey Won't You Please Come Home

2. You Made Me Love You

3. I Used To Love You

4. Have You Ever Been Lonely

5. Until The Real Thing Comes Along

6. Please Don't Talk About Me When I'm Gone

7. Three O'Clock In The Morning

8. I'm Always Chasing Rainbows

9. What's The Reason (I'm Not Pleasing You)

10. You're Nobody Till Somebody Loves You

11. I'm Just A Lucky So And So

12. Someday Sweetheart

x

Track List: Della

1. The Lady Is A Tramp

2. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight

3. Let's Get Away From It All

4. Thou Swell

5. You're Driving Me Crazy

6. Goody Goody

7. And The Angels Sing

8. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?

9. I'm Beginning To See The Light

10. I'll Get By

11. Blue Skies

12. Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)

13. The Lady Is A Tramp

14. If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight

15. Let's Get Away From It All

16. Thou Swell

17. You're Driving Me Crazy

18. Goody Goody

19. And The Angels Sing

20. Baby, Won't You Please Come Home?

21. I'm Beginning To See The Light

22. I'll Get By

23. Blue Skies

24. Someday (You'll Want Me To Want You)

x

Track List: A Date With Della Reese

1. Sometimes I'm Happy

2. Happiness Is A Thing Called Joe

3. Almost Like Being In Love

4. Someone To Watch Over Me

5. The Birth Of The Blues

6. Pennies From Heaven

7. Getting To Know You

8. If I Forget You

9. All Of Me

10. The Nearness Of You

11. Just One Of Those Things

12. The Party's Over

x

Track List: The Story Of The Blues

1. The Story Of The Blues

2. Good Morning Blues

3. Empty Bed Blues

4. Squeeze Me

5. You've Been A Good Old Wagon

6. Sent For You Yesterday (And Here You Come Today)

7. St. James Infirmary

8. Lover Man

9. Things Ain't What They Used To Be

10. Stormy Weather

11. There's Always The Blues

x

Track List: Melancholy Baby

1. My Melancholy Baby

2. Who Can I Turn To

3. Mood Indigo

4. I Get Along Without You Very Well

5. Cottage For Sale

6. They Can't Take That Away From Me

7. One For My Baby

8. I Could Have Told You So

9. When Your Lover Has Gone

10. Say It Isn't So

11. All Alone

12. It's Monday Every Day

Comments

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Love her
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Lady Della was SWELLA and was easy. To spend an evening listening to! like the great person she was, you wish was was a neighbor. When on TV visiting with old friend Merv Griffin, she showed such a warm presence and funny, quick witted guest that you wanted the show continue all nite long. Check out her many albums and enjoy a very special LADY !!! Really miss her laugh and smile.
Tommy D. You know with her Heavenly voice, where she is.
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carolsmutts
Reminds me of my childhood, my Dad playing all the great singers. Della Reese always was a favorite.
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The Greatest Angelic Voice I've ever heard. I Love You Della!!!
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I can I find the classic della?
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Not yet. Still looking.
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realtorfiona
Did you ever find The Classic Della
Report as inappropriate
I've been trying to find the album on which Della sang a number of classics.
I believe the album was title "The Classic Della"

hehr1
Report as inappropriate
Ever notice how she annunciates each word. This was due to her father telling her that if she sang anything other than gospel, he wanted to be able to understand each word she sang.

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