Della Reese, noted jazz singer and actor, passes away aged 86
Los Angeles: Della Reese, one of the pioneers of jazz music in 1950s-60s, has died at her home in California. The news of Reese's death was shared by Roma Downey, who co-starred with the singer on the show Touched by an Angel.
"On behalf of her husband, Franklin Lett, and all her friends and family, I share with you the news that our beloved Della Reese has passed away peacefully at her California home last evening surrounded by love," said Downey in a statement, reported People Magazine.
"She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer. Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people," she added.
She was born as Delloreese Patricia Early on 6 July, 1931 in Detroit's Black Bottom and started singing at the age of six.
Reese was catapulted to fame with her hit song 'Don't You Know', which reached No 2 on the Billboard singles chart, in 1959. In 1969, she also started hosting her own TV show Della, making her the first African-American woman to do so.
She earned acclaim as an actor, with drama series Touched by an Angel, which premiered in 1994. Reese played the role of Tess, a stern but loving supervisor of angels who guided a soft-hearted and less experienced angel, Monica (Downey), in helping humans at crossroads in their lives. The series lasted nine years and she continued to act for another decade after that.
The singer was married to Franklin Thomas Lett and the couple has three children James, Franklin and Dominique.