Raised in the church community, the young Reese started singing in the choir. Before ten, the young starlet was already singing at other churches, performing at civic centres and even on the radio. Mahalia Jackson who was known as the Queen of Gospel Music came to Detroit and needed to replace a member of her troupe; she picked Reese and marvelling at her voice, enlisted her for several of her summer tours. At the end of her time with Jackson, Della formed her own music group in the late 1940s and they became one of the jazz-producing bands at the time.
Date of Birth: July 6, 1931
Date of Death: November 19, 2017 (aged 86)
Zodiac Sign: Cancer
Music wasn’t her only talent as she enjoyed dual careers by proving to be a great actress. Delloreese Patricia Early was famously known for the long-running CBS drama series Touched by an Angel (1994 – 2003) and a few other movies. She was the talk show host for her own show Della and in 2010, became an ordained minister.
The Time after Time star died at 86 after battling with Type-2 Diabetes for a few years. The late performer would forever be missed but her people-uplifting legacy would live on forever. Keep reading to meet the family members of the late legend.
Nellie Mitchelle Early (mother)
Year of Death: 1949
Nellie had six other children but none of them lived with her so Della was raised as an only child. She died in 1949 of an intracranial haemorrhage.
Richard Thaddeus Early (father)
Year of Death: 1959
He was an African-American steel worker but not much is known about his relationship with his late daughter. Richard passed away 10 years after Reese lost her mom.
Della Reese had 5 elder siblings.
Vermont Taliaferro (former spouse)
Year of Birth: 1912
Duration of Marriage: July 1951 – 1958 (6 years)
Vermont was a factory worker and 19 years older that Della. After they got married, she adopted the stage name Pat Ferro for just about a week then introduced the name she used for the rest of her life.
Leroy Gray (former spouse)
Duration of Marriage: December 28, 1959 – 1961 (2 years)
Reese’s second wedding was with an accountant who had two children from his previous marriage. Leroy had kept his children secret but Reese later discovered and their marriage was annulled on the basis that Gray’s previous divorce was invalid.
Franklin Lett (former spouse)
Duration of Marriage: January 12, 1983 – November 19, 2017; till her death (34 years)
Date of Birth: November 20, 1935
Zodiac Sign: Scorpio
Before Lett, some sources claim that the singer was briefly married to her former manager, Mercer Ellington in 1961 but it was annulled. Her last and longest marriage was with Franklin who was a concert producer and writer. Reese is survived by Richard with whom she was married at the time of her death. He was the only one she had children for except the daughter she adopted earlier.
Deloreese Daniels Owens (adopted daughter)
Year of Birth: 1961
Date of Death: March 12, 2002 (aged 41)
The pop and jazz trailblazer adopted Owens from her family in 1961 as they could not care for her. She raised Daniels as her daughter until she died in 2002 of complications from a pituitary disorder that made her sensitive to infections. She was a radio operator technician and shared a really tight bond with the late icon. She had 2 kids herself.
Dr. James Barger (adopted son)
He is a psychiatrist. He studied in Indiana University School of Medicine.
Dominique Lett-Wirtschafter (step-daughter from marriage to Franklin Lett)
She is a film director and TV writer. She directed movie If I Had Known I Was a Genius.
Franklin Lett III (son with Franklin Lett)
He is the only biological child and she had him in her latest marriage. Very little is known about him as he preferred to stay far from the limelight.