'Rescue Me' singer was 72
Fontella Bass

Soul great Fontella Bass has passed away at the age of 72.

In an era blessed by wonderful female voices, Fontella Bass still stood out. Perhaps it was the clarity of her voice, the subtlety of her songwriting or the infectious nature of her music - whatever the defining factor, the St. Louis born artist built up a body of work which spans generations.

Brought up in the confines of a gospel choir, Fontella Bass came from a musical family. The singer's mother was gospel great Clara Ward, while her brother David Peaston built up a sizeable reputation on the R&B circuit.

Pulled into the orbit of Chess Records, Fontella Bass helped to put the label back on the pop map. Essentially a riposte to the all conqeuring Motown machine, 'Rescue Me' bares all the hallmarks of the Detroit label but with a Chess twist.

Effortless pop music, it became a global hit in 1965 and shot Fontella Bass into the charts. Unusually, the singer bares a co-write credit on the single - a sign of her independence within the powerhouse Chess complex.

Suffering a heart attack three weeks ago, Fontella Bass passed away in St. Louis on December 26th. BBC News carries an emotional quote from daughter Neuka Mitchell: "She had a very big personality. Any room she entered, she just lit the room up, whether she was on stage or just going out to eat".

Here's 'Rescue Me' live on cult 60s music show 'Shindig!'.


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