Saturday, December 29, 2012

FONTELLA BASS (1940 - 2012)

Best known for the hit song, "Rescue Me", soul singer, Fontella Bass passed away on December 26th.

Music was in in her blood as her mother was gospel singer, Martha Bass who was a member of The Clara Ward Singers and Fontella accompanied her mother on tour at a very young age. By sixteen, she began performing r&b songs at contests in St. Louis before being discovered by blues legend, Little Morton where Fontella first played piano for his band before receiving the opportunity to sing, eventually given a solo spot in his act.

She moved to Chicago to begin her solo music career where she was quickly signed to Chess Records. Her first hit recording was, "Don't Mess Up A Good Thing", a duet with Bobby McClure that reached the top five on the r&b chart in 1965.

Her biggest hit, "Rescue Me" (which features singer, Minnie Riperton on background vocals and future Earth Wind and Fire founder, Maurice White on drums) reached number one on the U.S. r&b chart for four weeks and made it to number four on the Billboard Hot 100 pop chart. Although the song is credited to Raynard Miner and Carl Smith, Bass has been said to have co-written the tune and was promised a credit.

Bass was never able to recapture this great success but she continued to perform, only retiring for a number of years to focus on raising her four children. When her version of  "Rescue Me" was used for an American Express commercial in 1993, that generated renewed interest in the singer.

Fontella Bass was a truly gifted talent and her voice will be missed.

"Rescue Me" - Fontella Bass (1965)

Here is a video of Ms Bass performing her very first hit with Bobby McClure:


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