‘Touched By An Angel” star and R&B singer Della Reese passed away at the glorious age of 86 years old. The legend lived a long life as an entertainer. Her career in entertainment began when she got her big break at Detroit’s popular Flame Show Bar where she was exposed and influenced by jazz acts like Billie Holiday.
She made her big move to New York in 1953 where she landed a record contract with Jubilee Records. Her most popular songs were “In the Still of the Night,” “I’ve Got My Love to Keep Me Warm”, and “Time After Time”. Which led to Billboard, Cashbox, and Variety magazine naming her ‘Most Promising Singer in 1957.
Reese went on to then signing with RCA records in 1959 and released her chart-topping single, “Don’t You Know”. Many accolades later Reese became the first black woman to have her own television variety show and then went on to be the first black woman to guest host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. She went on to appear in many TV shows and movings including some of our favorites like Roots, The Love Boat, Sanford and Son, and Harlem Nights.
Despite all of her success, Reese was facing a lot of health challenges. In 1979 she suffered from a brain aneurysm and in 2002 she announced that she had Type 2 diabetes. She never let her health issues stand in the way of her talent and success. Reese was a strong believer in Christ and she routinely included black spirituals in her nightclub performances. She founded the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church in 1983 and became an ordained minister in 1987 and continued to walk by faith and be a living example of God’s grace.
In 1991 she starred Tess in one of her most memorable acts as Tess on Touched by an Angel. She was the supervisor of the angels who would send them out to help people and spread God’s love. Reese had a perfect mix of realness and anointing, she combined the uplifting message of the show and her down to earth personality. She received seven NAACP Image for her role as leading actress on this impactful show and was one of the 25 black female honorees at Oprah Winfrey’s Legends Ball in 2005.
Reese lived a beautiful and fulfilling life not only for herself but for others. Rest in peace, angel. Black girl magic at its finest!