The Rev. Della Reese-Lett
1987 Della Reese-Lett, world famous singer, actress and television
personality, was ordained as a minister by the Universal Foundation for
Better Living, an organization of twenty-two member churches and study
groups worldwide, founded by The Reverend Doctor Johnnie Colemon.
Reverend Della, as she is lovingly called, founded Understanding
Principles for Better Living Church (UP) in Los Angeles, California in
order to provide others with the opportunity to know members of UP Church
are able to share the wisdom, revelations, and inspirations of one of this
country's great spiritual leaders. Her lesson/sermons, based upon
the teachings of Jesus Christ, give all who are seeking practical ways to
learn and apply the Principles that will allow them to have a better life.
Reverend Della's walk with God started when she was a child in Detroit,
Michigan. She began singing in church when she was six years
old. Through those formative years she was involved in gospel
singing. At the age of 13, she was hired by the Late Mahalia
Jackson to tour and perform with her. As Reverend Della recalls,
"This opportunity to sing with the 'world's foremost gospel singer'
was a thrilling experience."
while majoring in psychology at Wayne State University, in Detroit,
Della formed her own female gospel group, "The Meditation
Singers", which is listed in the "Who's Who of Gospel
|While her roots were still in
gospel Music, Della
developed an individual popular style that took her to national
prominence. In 1953, she made the move to New
York City, became a vocalist with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra.
Her early recordings include: "In The Still of The Night",
"I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm", and "Time After
Time". Della had her first major hit with "And That Reminds Me
(of you)". In 1959, Della enjoyed her biggest hit, a tune
adapted from puccini's "La Boheme", entitled "Don't You
Know?" and was nominated for a Grammy as best female vocalist.
This led to Della performing for the next nine years in Las Vegas on the
famed "Strip". In the thirty years that followed
"Don't You Know?" Della Reese has continued her string
recordings and was again nominated for a Grammy in 1987 as best female
soloist in Gospel.
generous amount of television exposure followed Della's first recording
successes. In the late '50's and early '60's, she appeared on many
television shows that are now considered classics. She was also the
first female to host "The Tonight Show". She was soon
asked to host her own talk show, "Della", (making her the first
Black woman to host her own show) which was syndicated nationally in
Television, which became the major medium of the '70's and '80's, saw a
lot of Della. Later she was to star in her own series, "The
Royal Family" with Redd Foxx. Della's received an Emmy
nomination for her work in the television movie "Nightmare in Badham
most recent of her television pursuits is the CBS dramatic series,
"Touched By An Angel" which is in it's seventh season, and where
her two talents are combined as she also sings the theme song.
Della's television work was honored in 1994, as she received her star on
the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
the demands of filming a television series in Salt Lake City, Utah, Rev.
Della continues to make the trip to Los Angeles weekly so that she can
continue to teach, instruct and inspire. Through her devotion,
dedication and determination, what began with eight (8) people around her
dining room table has grown into a Love and Spirit-filled ministry which
now has a weekly attendance of close to 300. Rev. Della's message of
Practical Christianity has been an inspiration to so many and the church
is growing so rapidly that plans for UP's new church home are underway.
Reese is more than an entertainer, more than an actress, more than a
minister - Della is living proof that with God as your partner, you can
dream larger dreams and watch them come true.