Fontella Bass had a giant top ten hit in 1965 in addition to some other things she did in her musical career.
She was born in St. Louis in 1940, and her mother was a member of the Clara Ward Gospel Troupe. Fontella's first public appearance came in the late 50's when she appeared with the St. Louis Gospel/Blues Show. She performed with the St. Louis based band, the Oliver Sain Review. Soul singer Little Milton found her and she joined his band in the early 60's, continuing in that role until 1964. In addition to her excellent singing voice, she was accomplished on both the piano and organ.
Fontella signed a contract with the Chess/Checker label and recorded two duets with Bobby McClure that made the R&B charts along with five solo efforts on the R&B charts, all of them in 1965 and 1966. Her first hit to cross over to the pop top forty was one of the duets, Don't Mess Up A Good Thing. Then she hit the big time with her own song, Rescue Me, an excellent song that made the top five in both charts.
Her musical director for a time was trombone player Joseph Bowie, brother of trumpet player Lester Bowie. She married Lester Bowie and in the 70's performed with the Art Ensemble of Chicago, leading to an album titled The Art Ensemble Of Chicago With Fontella Bass in 1972. She also sang the theme song Theme de Yoto from the film Les Stances a Sophie.
In later years she suffered from a series of strokes, and died in her native St. Louis from complications following a heart attack, on December 26, 2012. Fontella Bass had a rich, exciting voice that was honed in her years singing with gospel singers and soul singers, resulting in her most memorable hit, Rescue Me, in 1965.
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