Rest in peace, Della Reese

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“Touched by an angel” was a popular TV series starring Della Reese, but to me – it was her music that truly touched me. On Sunday 19 November, Della died at the age of 86 and I suspect she turned into an angel for real…

Della Reese was born July 6 1931, started out as a gospel singer and made her first (gospel) record in 1953. From 1957 and for the next 20 years, Della put out a long line of great albums that for the most part had her steeped in the tradition of the classic pop singer. Always a great interpreter of songs from the great American songbook, she also managed to stretch out into semi-classical stuff, blues, big band, soulful material, straight pop and an occasional touch of country.

Della Reese – photo from the 1950s

 

Her deep, soulful alto voice was well suited to any kind of material, and she displayed a lot of verve and personality on uptempo numbers, whether bluesy or imbued with the right amount of gospel fervor. Della the ballad singer could sing or soft or strong – but she always managed to wring the last drop of emotion out of every single syllable.

 

Della Reese in the late 1960s

 

On her 1967 album “On Strings of Blue“, she also embraced songs and songwriters of modern-day pop, including Burt Bacharachs “A House is not a home”. If you’re looking for Della the “modern” pop singer, all her 1970s albums are highly recommended: “Black Is Beautiful” (1970), “Right Now” (1972), “Let Me In Your Life” (1974), “One Of A Kind” (1978). Another favorite of mine is her lone 1977 single on Brunswick, “Nothing But A True Love”.

In addition to being a singer, she was also a TV Talk Show hostess, a big Las Vegas attraction, actress and an ordained Minister. She guested in a long string of TV shows and series – sometimes singing, sometimes just acting. Then in the 1990s, she took on the part of Tess in “Touched By an Angel” – the acting part for which she is best known.

Della in the mid-90s, when she starred in “Touched By an Angel”

 

For more than 60 years, the great Miss Reese has touched various parts of the entertainment business with her voice, talent and personality, in her very own and very unique way. As a singer who was able to transform every human emotion possible into great music, she most certainly touched me.

 

Della photographed in her later years

 

 

BEA WAIN: April 30, 1917 – August 19, 2017

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I´m afraid it´s true – her daughter Bonnie published it on her Facebook page: Bea is gone forever….

 

30s Photo. Style and class was evident in both her voice and looks. The voice was silenced forever on August 19th…

 

As you, my readers, know – I was a big fan of Bea, she was just AWEsome! I really appreciated all the nice messages coming in after I had written about Bea. I know that you all will also share the loss…

 

Bea got to turn 100 – this photo was taken by S.F. Baruch on Bea´s 99th birthday

 

With Bea´s passing, the era of the classic American pop-jazz singer is effectively over.

I can only think of one more singer who made records in the 1930s who is still around: The UK´s Vera Lynn.

 

Rest in Peace, Bea. Love, Stian

Dinah Shore – A centennial celebration

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On this day, one hundred years ago – Dinah Shore came into this world. Up until her Death, on February 24th 1994, she was perhaps the finest example of “Southern Elegance” – both on record and in person. She was also one of the first American stars of TV, and there was seemingly no limit to her talents in any media. She sang, she acted in movies, she had her own TV show for many years, she was an avid golfer, her talent for cooking was legendary, she wrote books and above all, she was an incredible singer.

 

Dinah: photos from the 40s, 50s and 60s

Dinah: photos from the 40s, 50s and 60s

 

Her TV shows were never screened in Norway, so in this country she is more famous as a singer. As such, she was a very versatile one – the magic touch of the Shore voice was equally well put to use on jazzy ballads, 50s novelty tunes, country songs and contemporary 70s pop songs. Her mid-1970s sessions turned out to be the last time she recorded new music, but her takes on Eagles’ “Best of my love”, Diana Ross’ “Do you know where you’re going to”, Paul Simon’s “50 ways to leave your lover” and Neil Sedaka’s “The hungry years” are so good it makes me wish she had continued in that vein…

Before that, she made an endlessly long list of incredibly good recordings – most of which are available, and way overdue for rediscovery. Her albums recorded for Capitol from 1957-1962 are strongly recommended!

 

Dinah: photos from the 70s, 80s and 90s

Dinah: photos from the 70s, 80s and 90s

 

On this day, the centennial of Dinah Shore’s birth, I strongly suggest you check out some of her music and I just know you will enjoy the sound of that liquid honey voice – “Southern Elegance” indeed!

 

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