Delloreese Patricia Early, known professionally as Della Reese, is an American actress, singer, game show panelist of the 1970s, one-time talk-show hostess and ordained minister. She started her career in the 1950s as a gospel, pop and jazz singer, scoring a hit with her 1959 single "Don't You Know?" In the late 1960s, she had hosted her own talk show, Della, which ran for 297 episodes. Through four decades of acting, she is best known for playing Tess, the lead role on the 1994-2003 television show Touched by an Angel. In more recent times, she became an ordained New Thought minister in the Understanding Principles for Better Living Church in Los Angeles.
Della began singing in her hometown of Detroit when she was 6 years old. As a teenager, she toured with gospel great Mahalia Jackson and, at the age of 18, she formed the Meditation Singers and became the first performer to take gospel music to the casinos of Las Vegas. She was a vocalist with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra and began making her own records. She was nominated for a Grammy Award as Best Female Soloist in Gospel music in 1987. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband, producer Franklin Lett.
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