DETROIT (AP) — Detroit R&B and jazz singer Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly has died. She was 70.

Swanson Funeral Home in Detroit tells The Associated Press her funeral is May 26 at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church.

Friend and bass player Ralphe Armstrong tells the Detroit Free Press that Barnes-Kennerly died Friday in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she went for a performance. He says she had at least two strokes in recent years and died of heart failure.

Barnes-Kennerly recorded in the 1960s for independent Detroit music labels Mickay Records and Coral Records. She opened shows for Motown Records performers Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight.

Armstrong says if Aretha Franklin is the Queen of Soul, Barnes-Kennerly “was the empress.”

She later turned her career toward speaking and the ministry.

 

Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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