Fontella Bass

Fontella Bass has touched generations of people all over the globe with her immortal classic Rescue Me. Released in 1965, it was not only a major hit but became an unofficial anthem of U.S. soldiers during the Vietnam War; and since then it has been a staple of American music on radio and television, in films and sports arenas, and anywhere else that recorded music is heard. But Fontella Bass, in spite of her cultural icon status from that song, has continued to be on the cutting edge of musical expression and diversity ever since.

Married at the time to the late great and lamented trumpeter and co-founder of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Lester Bowie, Fontella was part of the fabled St. Louis scene that included Bowie, future World Saxophone Quartet co-founders Oliver Lake, Julius Hemphill and Hamiet Bluiett, and various other members of BAG (Black Artists Group) that, along with Chicago's AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), established the post-60s Jazz avant-garde.

Unlike many of the prominent members of that scene, Fontella chose to remain in St. Louis, despite spending a number of years in Paris working with Lester and the Art Ensemble, and recording and touring internationally on her own, with Bowie's From the Root to the Source, and with members of the WSQ since her return to St. Louis in 1973. With her richly vibrant and passionate voice sounding as powerful as it did more than 35 years ago, and further blessed with wisdom and maturity, Fontella Bass epitomizes the concept of spiritual music.