Tag: Mahalia Jackson

R.I.P. Della Reese, 86, Singer and ‘Touched by an Angel’ Star

Ms. Reese performed in concert in 2001 as part of Detroit 300, a festival celebrating the city’s 300th anniversary. As a singer, she had her first big hit record in 1957, with the romantic ballad “And That Reminds Me.” (Credit: Paul Warner/Associated Press)

by Anita Gates via nytimes.com

Della Reese, the husky-voiced singer and actress who spent almost a decade playing a down-to-earth heavenly messenger on the CBS series “Touched by an Angel” and became an ordained minister in real life, died on Sunday night at her home in Encino, Calif. She was 86.

Her death was confirmed by her manager, Lynda Bensky. She did not specify the cause but said that Ms. Reese had diabetes.

Ms. Reese had been under contract to Jubilee Records for three years when, in 1957, she had her first big hit record, the romantic ballad “And That Reminds Me.”

Named the year’s most promising “girl singer” by Billboard, Variety and Cash Box, she was soon making regular appearances on the leading television variety shows of the day. Her biggest hit was “Don’t You Know” — adapted from “Musetta’s Waltz,” an aria from “La Bohème” — which reached No. 2 on the Billboard singles chart in 1959.

But she became best known as an actress, particularly in the sentimental drama series “Touched by an Angel,” which had its premiere in 1994 and evolved into one of prime time’s top-rated shows. It placed in the Nielsen Top 10 from 1996 to 2000, with an average of more than 20 million weekly viewers at one point.

In the show, Ms. Reese, by then in her 60s, was cast as Tess, a stern but loving supervisor of angels who guided a softhearted and less experienced angel, Monica (Roma Downey), in helping humans at crossroads in their lives. The series told reassuring stories of forgiveness and second chances with mild irreverence. (“You get your little angel butt back to the city,” Tess told Monica in one episode.)

Ms. Reese contended that no career switch was involved. “Every time I sang the blues, I wasn’t blue,” she said in a 2008 interview for the Archive of American Television, alluding to her emotional connections and delivery as a vocalist. “I was already acting.”

Ms. Reese’s religious faith was a major influence in her career. In 1996 she told The Chicago Tribune that she had consulted with God about whether to sign on for “Angel.” “As clearly as I hear you,” she said, “I heard him say: ‘You can do this. I want you to do this, and you can retire in 10 years.’ ”

The series lasted nine years, and she continued to act for another decade after that.

Continue reading “R.I.P. Della Reese, 86, Singer and ‘Touched by an Angel’ Star”

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum to Host FREE Admission Day with Special Events in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in Cleveland, OH is hosting its 14th annual FREE admission day in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 19, 2015 from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. The Museum will offer a day filled with live performances, education programs and family activities that will highlight how people use music to find their voice and create a sense of community.

Visitors are invited to experience the Rock Hall’s many exhibits that showcase how Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees and other artists have used popular music to communicate ideas to a wide audience and bring about social change.  The day of events is sponsored by KeyBank.

In addition to free admission, visitors will be able to enter for a chance to win a Museum membership, as five Family Roller memberships will be raffled off during the day.  For a list of current exhibits and for more information about this and other Rock Hall events, visit http://www.rockhall.com.

Klipsch Audio stage entertainment lineup:

Jason Walker of Sounds of Entertainment will emcee the events.

The Antioch Spiritual Arts Choir, an acclaimed co-ed choir from Antioch Baptist Church who focus on spirituals, folk and gospel music.

West Side Community House’s Summer of Sisterhood program began in 2010 under the leadership of Ali McClain, youth services director.  The program teaches girls ages 10-18 how the power of creative expression can positively change their community and even the world.  The girls work intensively for eight week with professional teaching artists to create original songs, music videos, and live performances of their work.

The Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word, a powerful performance arts and spoken word group comprised of adolescent males (age 12-19) from various inner city Cleveland communities.

Inspire *1* One, a band comprised of former students from Cleveland School of the Arts.

Lake Erie Ink, a writing space for youth is a non-profit that provides creative expression opportunities and academic support to youth in the greater Cleveland community.  LEI works with youth from different socio-economic, cultural and academic backgrounds, using creative writing to increase literacy and social engagement. The organization offers creative expression workshops onsite and off, to youth of all ages, including an after school program, weekly evening workshops for teens, and monthly weekend workshops and open mics.

Foster Theater Programming:

Programming will be taught by the Rock Hall’s award-winning education staff.  Seating is limited. Attendance will be on a first-come first-served basis.

Special Presentation:  “Rock and Roll and the Civil Rights Movement”
This program will explore how a range of artists, from Mahalia Jackson and Sam Cooke to Berry Gordy at Motown and rock and roll pioneer Fats Domino created a popular music that empowered African Americans to take their rightful place in American society. Young people of all races flocked to their performances and embraced their music, which helped to break down the walls and barriers that the Civil Rights movement was fighting against.

Album Spotlight: Marvin Gaye’s What’s Goin’ On
This special presentation will focus on the making and impact of Marvin Gaye’s landmark 1971 album, which still resonates for listeners today. The full album will be played, with no interruption, with discussion to follow. Continue reading “The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame & Museum to Host FREE Admission Day with Special Events in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.”

Born On This Day in 1911: Gospel Powerhouse Mahalia Jackson

“You going to be famous in this world and walk with kings and queens,” an aunt told  twelve year-old Mahalia Jackson. Born on October 26, 1911, in New Orleans, where she shared a shotgun house with thirteen people, the future could only get better. 

But before it did, Jackson’s mother died when she was just four and she had to leave school in the fourth grade to help out at home. She had music though — the jazz bands that entertained the city and the gospel that healed souls, with some Bessie Smith in between. On Every Wednesday, Friday and four times on Sunday, when Jackson sang at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, the sound wafted out into the street so that, one imagines, sinners also could enjoy her energetic contralto voice. Continue reading “Born On This Day in 1911: Gospel Powerhouse Mahalia Jackson”

GBN Quote Of The Day

“It’s easy to be independent when you’ve got money. But to be independent when you haven’t got a thing, that’s the Lord’s test.”

–Mahalia Jackson, the “Queen Of Gospel”