The news this week of the death of popular recording artist, actress and Minister Della Reese at 86 prompted a visit to the archives for another look at the candid interview she granted in 2009.
No topic was off limits for the Detroit-born singer who was mentored by gospel great Mahalia Jackson before turning to jazz. Recalling the criticism she received about the switch, Reese told Tasty Clips: “The people in my church said I had given my soul to the devil and God was gonna get me. I don’t know what kind of God they served, but I have the right to music that everybody else has. Because I’m singing a popular love song does not mean that my relationship with God is no longer existent.”
Reese was also a pioneer in television as the first black woman to have her own syndicated program and to guest host “The Tonight Show.”
“Let me give Johnny Carson his propers,” she said of the iconic late night star. “He didn’t just want to stick somebody in that place when he was ready to retire. He loved his audience so much he wanted to put somebody there that he felt good about. He tried out a lot of people and since I already had a television show that was successful, he gave me an opportunity to host his show.”
A ton of guest star spots and recurring roles followed including a memorable movie appearance in the Eddie Murphy, Richard Pryor, Redd Foxx 1981 comedy “Harlem Nights.”
But she was most proud of her inspirational CBS series with Roma Downey, “Touched By An Angel.”
“They said that would never work,” Reese recalled. “In the beginning, they gave us three shows, kept changing us around and no advertisement was done. But God was in the plan and so people called each other. They gave us four more shows. Our audience kept building and the people kept saying this is what we want. It stayed on for nine years.
“A lady once came running towards me and said, ‘I just had to thank you.’ I said, For what? She said for ‘Touched By An Angel’ because it helped me to make it when my sister was murdered.’ Hello!
Reese continued: “I had one woman tell me that she had the pills in her hand that she was going to take and somehow she ended up in the living room with the TV on and what we said on that show made her know that she had something to live for.”
She later became a champion for young performers who found themselves one and done in the music industry.
“In our business if you don’t have a hit record every two minutes, people tend to forget about the talents that God has given you,” Reese said. “I had a wonderful manager and agent that were interested in my being sustained. That’s not happening any more. Tony Bennett, for an example, has lasted forever. My career has lasted forever. They’re not doing that with young people anymore.
“If you’re not hot, you’re nothing, and that’s not true,” she added. “Talent lasts longer than a record. It lasts longer than a particular job.”
And the mark of the woman born Delloreese Patricia Early shall be everlasting.
CLIPPETTES: The New Jack Turkey Jam featuring Teddy Riley, Guy, Blackstreet, Big Bub from Today, Kool Moe Dee, Christopher Williams, Wreck-N-Effect and more is served on Nov. 25 at Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena …
“Patti LaBelle and Friends — Home for the Holidays” is now available on CD and digital formats. The 14-song collection features LaBelle along with Vivian Green, Ruben Studdard, Tamela Mann and piano virtuoso, Jamar Jones …
Chris Rock’s Total Blackout Tour is at the Dolby Theatre Nov. 29–Dec. 2 …
Terry McMillan’s best-selling novel, “I Almost Forgot About You,” is being turned into a feature film starring Viola Davis and directed by Malcolm D. Lee (“Girls Trip”) …
Teedra Moses is performing on Nov. 30 at Gaslamp Long Beach …
Congrats to Dayanara Torres (1993’s Miss Puerto Rico and Miss Universe) for winning season five of Univision’s hit dance competition “Mira Quién Baila,” raising $50,000 for the San Jorge Children’s Foundation …
The nominees for the 49th NAACP Image Awards were announced with Netflix and OWN leading in the television categories; RCA and Capitol in recordings; and Universal Pictures in film.
TASTY QUIP: “At the end of the day, call ‘Get Out’ horror, comedy, drama, action or documentary, I don’t care. Whatever you call it, just know it’s our truth.” – Director JORDAN PEELE
TC ON TV: Nov. 24 – “Frontier” (Netflix): Jason Momoa’s action-packed drama set in the world of the North American fur trade during the late 18th century is back. “Wendy Williams” (Syn): Whoopi Goldberg “iHeartRadio Music Festival Night 2” (CW): Big Sean, DJ Khaled and more. “Grammys Greatest Stories: A 60th anniversary Special” (CBS): Peep at rare archival footage, exclusive interviews and special appearances by Mary J. Blige, Aretha Franklin, Elton John and Sting, among others. “The Rap Game” (Lifetime): Season 4 brings on Da Brat, Bow Wow, Doug E Fresh, KeKe Palmer, Teyana Taylor and others to help the kids get a recording contract with Jermaine Dupri’s So So Def label.
Nov. 25 – “The Christmas Train” (Hallmark): Danny Glover is featured in this new holiday movie. “Wrapped Up In Christmas” (Lifetime): “Fresh Prince of Bel Air” alums Tatyana Ali and Joseph Marcell, along with TV faves Kim Fields, Jasmine Guy, Jackee Harry and Dan Lauria spread cheer in this original movie. “Welcome To Sweetie Pie’s” (OWN): As the fifth season begins, we’ll find out why the L.A. locations were closed and where the gang has gone.
Nov. 26 – “2017 Soul Train Awards” (BET): Erykah Badu hosts with performances by Fantasia, Faith Evans, Method Man and more.
Nov. 27 – “Winsanity” (GSN): Donald Faison (“Scrubs”) is back as host for this second season with a new format and set. “A Very Pentatonix Christmas” (NBC): With Jennifer Hudson and Jay Leno.
Nov. 29 – “Bruno Mars: 24K Magic Live at the Apollo” (CBS) “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party” (VH1): Kelly Rowland and George Lopez get into tongue tacos in the first episode followed by a holiday-themed show with Kelly and Sharon Osbourne and Rae Sremmurd. “The Daily Show” (Comedy): Talib Kweli
TASTY QUIP: “[They’re in for] the greatest experience that they’ve ever had outside of Disneyland.” – KATT WILLIAMS to TMZ on white people attending a “Come Meet a Black Person” event in Georgia
As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to email@example.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.