I grew up in the 70s and 80s, and felt like Della Reese was just one of those actors you see everywhere, but don't really know very much about. She was on game shows, and had guest appearances on shows like Welcome Back Kotter and Chico and the Man. She was someone my parents grew up with, and who was using her celebrity to continue working.
Reading her biography, I was impressed to learn that she had been a gospel singer in Detroit, and had been discovered by Mahalia Jackson! I can't say that I've ever listened to her songs before today. I'm sure I heard them, but it didn't really register. But, wow! What a voice!
Seriously! What a great performer!
Happy 80th Birthday, Della Reese!