Text Box: JAZZ autographS


Phone: 212-860-5541


Price: $150.00



Autographed vintage 8” x 10” original Maurice Seymour of Chicago glossy publicity photograph of the great jazz, gospel and pop singer and actress.  The photograph is known to have been taken by Seymour on November 4, 1955 and shows the singer before she had her first hit.

Della Reese (1931 - 2017) is probably best remembered today in her Emmy Award role of Tess on “Touched By An Angel”.  However, prior to her taking up acting she was one of America’s finest home grown popular singers.  She was born and raised in Detroit where she began singing in her church choir at the age of six.  At thirteen she joined Mahalia Jacksons Gospel Choir, where she got her first taste of touring and also was academically gifted graduating in 1947 at the age of fifteen!  She enrolled at Wayne State University and left Jackson’s Choir, becoming a founding member of The Meditation Singers, another gospel group.  She dropped out of school to help her mother and took on odd jobs after she left her Dad’s house when he added a new girlfriend to the home.  As of 1949 she began to sing jazz in clubs and remained with the Meditation singers until 1953.  She next won a singing contest held by Mahalia Jackson which gave her a week’s stand at the Flame Show Bar in Detroit, which led to a two month gig and a contract to record for Jubilee Records.  It was not until 1957, two years after this photograph was taken that she made the top twenty in the Billboard charts with her swing jazz record, “And That Reminds Me”. 

Reese had a dusky mezzo with a bit of a top, which as she became older was more of a contralto.  She recorded records in multiple genres, jazz, gospel, r&b and pop, receiving her first Grammy in 1961 for her album, “Della”.  It was not until 1987 that she earned her second Grammy with the album “You Gave Me Love” and then in 1998 for the album, “My Soul Feels Better Right Now”.  In the year of her death in 2017, she was enshrined as a member of the Rhythm and Blues Hall of Fame.

Some of her great jazz singles included: “Stormy Weather” (1959), “When I Fall In Love”, (1959), “And That Reminds Me” (1959), “Someday, You Will Want Me To Want You” (1960), “Summertime” (1961), “Who Can I turn To” (1966) and “For Once In My Life” (1968) are some favorites.  She also sung a song entitled “Don’t You Know” which was a jazzy setting of “Musettas Waltz” from “La Boheme”, as well as new lyrics to a jazzy version of Schubert’s “Ständchen” called, “Serenade”!  Both were contained in an album called “Classical Della”.

The image itself is superb, however, a few partial hole punches at the very edge of the left side and her name and information typed on the top and bottom margin as well as a few hits.  Note, while later photographs of Reese as an actress are quite common, early origina photographs with contemporary signatures to the image as this one dedicated to the bluesman Clyde Robinson are rare.