La chanteuse est décédée dans un hôpital de Saint Louis (Missouri, centre des Etats-Unis), sa ville natale, a précisé sa famille, citée par un quotidien local, le St Louis Today. Selon le journal, elle avait fait une crise cardiaque le 2 décembre. "Oui, malheureusement c’est vrai", a confirmé à l’AFP un collaborateur de la chanteuse qui travaille à l’agence new-yorkaise Universal Attractions.
Parfois comparée à Aretha Franklin, Fontella Bass a émergé la même décennie sur la scène de la soul et du R&B, enregistrant son premier succès dans le milieu des années 1960 avec "Don’t mess up a good thing", chanté en duo avec Bobby McClure. Elle avait immédiatement connu un plus grand succès encore avec "Rescue Me", resté au sommet des charts pendant quatre semaines en 1965. Puis elle enregistre à Paris à la fin des années 1960 avec l’Art Ensemble of Chicago où joue son époux Lester Bowie. Dans les années 1970 de retour aux États-Unis elle enregistre quelques faces soul puis plus tard avec sa mère Martha Bass, chanteuse de gospel. (AFP)
Fontella Bass, 72, Singer of ‘Rescue Me,’ Is Dead
Fontella Bass, the singer whose 1965 hit “Rescue Me” was an indelible example of the decade’s finest pop-soul, died on Wednesday in St. Louis. She was 72. The cause was complications of a recent heart attack, her daughter Neuka Mitchell said.
Ms. Bass was born in St. Louis on Feb. 3, 1940, and learned gospel at the side of her mother, Martha Bass, a member of one of the era’s major traditional gospel groups, the Ward Singers. From a young age she served as her mother’s pianist, but eventually, as an adolescent, got the itch to sing secular music. By the early 1960s she was playing with Little Milton, a blues guitarist and singer with links to the Chess label in Chicago.
After some early recordings with Little Milton’s Bobbin label in St. Louis, she joined Chess and released her first records on its Checker subsidiary in early 1965. The first two, “Don’t Mess Up a Good Thing” and “You’ll Miss Me (When I’m Gone),” duets with Bobby McClure, had modest success on the rhythm-and-blues charts. But her career was made by “Rescue Me,” released later that year.
Driven by a bubbly bass line, it featured Ms. Bass’s high-spirited voice in wholesomely amorous lyrics like “Come on and take my hand/Come on, baby, and be my man,” as well as some call-and-response moans that Ms. Bass later said resulted from a studio accident.
“When we were recording that, I forgot some of the words,” she told The New York Times in 1989. “Back then, you didn’t stop while the tape was running, and I remembered from the church what to do if you forget the words. I sang, ‘Ummm, ummm, ummm,’ and it worked out just fine.”
A major crossover hit, the song reached No. 4 on Billboard’s pop chart and has remained a staple on oldies radio, movie soundtracks and television commercials; Aretha Franklin sang a version of it for a Pizza Hut ad in the early ’90s (as “Deliver Me”).
Ms. Bass recorded several follow-up singles for Checker, but all fell short of the popularity of “Rescue Me,” and she then veered toward the avant-garde jazz of her husband, Lester Bowie , the trumpeter of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. She went with the group to Paris at the turn of the 1970s and recorded with it there, but soon returned to the United States.
A 1972 solo album, “Free,” was another commercial disappointment, and Ms. Bass turned to raising her four children with Mr. Bowie. Besides Ms. Mitchell, they include another daughter, Ju’Lene Coney, and two sons, Larry Stevenson and Bahnamous Bowie. They all survive her, along with 10 grandchildren. In Nytimes.com
Although her pop career had largely wound down, she continued to sing occasionally on Mr. Bowie’s records and to perform gospel with her mother and her half-brother, David Peaston. Her marriage to Mr. Bowie ended in divorce, and he died in 1999. Mr. Peaston died in February.
Ms. Bass had long maintained that she helped write “Rescue Me” and was deprived of proper credit and songwriting royalties. By 1990, she said, she was living in near-poverty when her career turned around after she heard “Rescue Me” used in an American Express commercial, and she began to press for remuneration for her work. She sued American Express in 1993, and she said she received a significant settlement.
In 1995 she released “No Ways Tired,” which was nominated for a Grammy for best traditional soul gospel album. Her subsequent releases included “Travellin’ ” in 2001 and “All That You Give,” a collaboration with the British electronic group the Cinematic Orchestra, in 2002.
She rescued herself, she said, when she began to stand up for her rights as an artist.
“It was as if the Lord had stepped right into my world,” she told Newsweek in 1995. “I looked around and got. In nytimes.com