Entertainment & Arts

Fontella Bass, US soul singer of Rescue Me, dies at 72

Fontella Bass performing at the legendary Apollo Theatre in new York in 2001
Image caption Fontella Bass performing at the legendary Apollo Theatre in New York in 2001

The American soul singer, Fontella Bass, best remembered for the hit single Rescue Me, has died of complications following a heart attack. She was 72.

She had been in poor health for much of the past seven years.

Rescue Me reached the top of the US R&B chart in 1965 and is one of the best known soul songs. It has been covered by many artists.

Fontella Bass had a powerful voice and a background steeped in music.

Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers and Fontella Bass began performing at a young age, singing in her church's choir at the age of six.

Like many of her generation, she graduated to soul and R&B in the 60s, signing to Chess Records.

She first found success in a duet with Bobby McClure on Don't Mess Up a Good Thing and You'll Miss Me (When I'm Gone).

She co-wrote Rescue Me, a song her daughter Neuka Mitchell said "held a special place in her heart".

But it took years of legal battles for her to receive full royalty rights to the song. A final settlement was reached more than 20 years after the song was first released.

Ms Mitchell said her mother was an outgoing person. "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."

Fontella Bass was married to the great jazz trumpeter, Lester Bowie, who was her musical director.

She died in the city where she was born, St Louis, Missouri.

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