Della Reese

The Reverend Dr. Della Reese Lett

Founder of Understanding Principles for Better Living Church

On Founding UP Church

Understanding Principles for Better Living Church (UP Church) started in my living room as a small group of eight Christians seeking to gain more divine knowledge of how to bring about change in their lives. Using the Holy Bible as our inspiration and the Rev. Dr. Johnnie Colemon as our guide, we studied, read, and prayed. Soon we were too big for my home, and we started moving to larger facilities. The benefit of those moves has provided us with a wonderful cross-section of people who have benefited from our teaching ministry.

We teach to fill that spiritual hunger of those who are unhappy with the way they are living their lives, and need to reacquaint themselves with God’s principles for achieving the Good Life, which is the God Promised Life.

At UP Church, we do not attempt to teach you what to think, but rather how to think on a higher level. And that level of thinking will immune you from the doubt and fear that causes us not to see the best in ourselves and others; immune you from magnifying our mistakes; immune you from procrastination, and immune you from failure.

Immunizing yourself from negative thinking and actions allows the God qualities of confidence, diligence, compassion, forgiveness, and most importantly Love to fill your life. This is how we achieve a healthy spiritual outlook…eliminate the negative and hold on to the positive.

A daily prayer to help you do this is, “God promised me that I am whole, perfect, and complete. I believe it!”

About Rev. Della (excerpted from

Della Reese is a minister, singer and actress known for her gospel talents and long career in television, including her role on the show ‘Touched by an Angel.’


Born in Michigan in 1931, Della Reese began making records and performing on television variety shows in the 1950s. From 1969 to 1970, she hosted a TV talk show called Della, and she went on to appear in many other series over the decades, including Sanford and Son and Picket Fences. In 1987, she was nominated for a gospel music Grammy Award (best female soloist), and in the 1990s she landed a starring role on the hit television drama Touched by an Angel.

Early Life

Singer and actress Deloreese Patricia Early, better known as Della Reese, was born in Detroit, Michigan, on July 6, 1931. Reese began on the path that would lead her to show business by singing in church at the age of 6. Her talents eventually landed her an opportunity to work with gospel great Mahalia Jackson when Reese was only 13 years old.

Reese went to Wayne State University in Detroit, where she majored in psychology. While in college, Reese formed the Meditation Singers, an all-female gospel group who would become known for being one of the first acts to take gospel music to the nightclubs of Las Vegas, Nevada. Unfortunately, a series of family tragedies put her studies and music on hold for a time. With her mother’s death and her father’s illness, Reese went to work to help her family financially.

Successful Singer

Reese’s musical career finally took off in the 1950s as she began making records with the Erskine Hawkins Orchestra. In 1954, Reese signed with Jubilee Records. Her biggest hit for the label was the 1957 song “And That Reminds Me.”

Switching to RCA, Reese scored her biggest pop hit to date with “Don’t You Know.” The song climbed to the No. 2 spot on the Billboard charts and earned her a Grammy Award nomination. The gifted vocalist also became a popular act on television variety shows, appearing on The Ed Sullivan Show, among other programs.

Multi-talented Entertainer

In 1969, Reese began hosting a TV talk/variety show called Della—becoming the first black woman to host her own variety show. The show was canceled in 1970, after 197 episodes. Around this time, she also became the first woman to serve as guest host of The Tonight Show and branched out into acting, making guest appearances on shows like The Mod Squad and Police Woman.

Later in the 1970s, Reese landed a recurring role on the sitcom Chico and the Man, starring Freddie Prinze. She appeared in more comedy series during the 1980s and 1990s, including Charlie & Co. with Flip Wilson and The Royal Family opposite Redd Foxx. Despite all of her acting, Reese never abandoned music. In 1987, she was nominated for a Grammy Award for best female soloist in the gospel music category.

‘Touched by an Angel’ and More

Reese took on one of her most famous roles beginning in 1994. She played an angel named Tess on the popular TV drama Touched by An Angel, alongside Roma Downey and John Dye. The three actors portrayed angels who try to help the living overcome their challenges and hardships. Reese was even able to showcase her singing talents on the program occasionally. During the show’s nine-season run, she received two Emmy Award nominations as well as Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild nods.

After Touched by An Angel ended in 2003, Reese continued to act while performing live on concert stages and releasing albums like 2006’s Give it to God. She appeared in the big-screen film Beauty Shop (2005) with Queen Latifah and in several television movies as well, including 2011’s Hallelujah and 2013’s Dear Secret Santa. Outside of the entertainment world, Reese is an ordained minister and has written books on spirituality, including Metaphysically Speaking (2013).