Blues and R&B Legend Denise LaSalle Dead at 78

R&B singer Denise LaSalle speaks with state Sen. David Jordan after being honored by the Senate at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., on Feb. 18, 2009. (Rogelio V. Solis/AP Images)

R&B legend Denise LaSalle, known for her hit songs “Trapped by a Thing Called Love” and “Now Run and Tell That,” died Tuesday in Jackson, Tenn. She was 78.

Family spokesman Howard Rambsy confirmed LaSalle’s death via email with the Jackson Sun.


Born Ora Denise Allen in 1939, according to the Clarion Ledger, LaSalle rose to fame after moving to Chicago in the late 1960s and signing with Chess Records.

If you want to understand who Denise LaSalle was, the best way I can describe her is like this: For grown-ass older women like your granny and mama and aunties, she was what people like Millie Jackson, Betty Wright, Adina Howard, Lil’ Kim, Foxy Brown, Cardi B and Nicki Minaj are to later generations.

She put out that “Don’t come to me as a woman about shit” type of music.

I mean …

“Your Husband Is Cheating on Us”—this is straight “You thought you were the only one?” music. This is “The ‘y’ in (y)our man is silent, sis” music. Your husband is cheating on us. She tells the wife that there are other women in the mix. He’s cheating on us.


She sang that Shug Avery, juke joint kind of music. Brown-liquor music. Music you play in the background while you talk your stuff.

LaSalle was a legend.

According to multiple sources, she had been planning to open the Denise LaSalle Blues Academy of Performing Arts in Jackson. She had been dealing with health issues in recent months, including the amputation of her right leg after she suffered a fall. She also had heart problems over the last few years.


I will leave you with this, a live performance of “Why Am I Missing You,” because this song is still a mood and a lifestyle. Listen to her monologue at the beginning.

And recognize how she made way for what you have today.

Rest in power, Ms. Denise. Please keep raising hell.

Read more at the Jackson Sun and the Clarion Ledger.

News Editor for The Root. I said what I said. Period.

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