By Jim Slater,
Fontella Bass, a St. Louis-born soul singer who hit the top of the R&B charts with “Rescue Me” in 1965, has died. She was 72.
Bass died Wednesday night at a St. Louis hospice of complications from a heart attack suffered three weeks ago, her daughter, Neuka Mitchell, said. Bass had also suffered a series of strokes over the past seven years.
“She was an outgoing person,” Mitchell said of her mother. “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.”
Bass was born into a family with deep musical roots. Her mother was gospel singer Martha Bass, one of the Clara Ward Singers. Her younger brother, David Peaston, had a string of R&B hits in the 1980s and 1990s. He died in February at age 54.
Bass began performing at a young age, singing in her church’s choir at age 6. She was surrounded by music, often traveling on national tours with her mother and her gospel group.