Denise LaSalle, born Ora Denise Allen, died at the age of 78 on Monday surrounded by family.
Randall Page, LaSalle's former business partner, confirmed the death of the renowned R&B singer. A family friend named Howard Rambsy added that the record producer and songwriter died Monday night at Vanderbilt hospital in Nashville. Another close friend and fellow musician, Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell, said that the singer died in Jackson, Tennessee.
The cause of death is still unclear, although according to reports, LaSalle had health issues in recent months after she suffered a fall. The fall also led to her right leg having to be amputated at Vanderbilt hospital. LaSalle reportedly also had to endure heart problems for two years before her death.
LaSalle, who grew up at a plantation in Sidon, Mississippi, made a name for herself in the music industry after she moved to Chicago as a teen and started singing R&B with Chess Records in the late 1960s. She took LaSalle as her stage name and soon enthralled listeners with her unique voice.
Her talent in singing the blues gave her the title as the "Queen of the Blues." She also sang for Mississippi-based Malaco records and with Hi Records.
LaSalle had a string of successful hits in the 1970s and the early 1980s including "Now Run and Tell That." She founded the National Association for the Preservation of the Blues in 1986 to bring more attention to the "soul/blues."
In 2011, the Mississippi-native was cited for her "bold and bawdy stage act" in the "Blues Hall of Fame" in Memphis. She was recently also nominated for the Soul Blues Female Artist category in the 39th Blues Music Awards, which is set to take place on May 10 at the Memphis Cook Convention Center.
Prior to her death, LaSalle was still working to achieve her dream of opening the Denise LaSalle Blues Academy of Performing Arts in Jackson.
Walter Reid, a D.J. at the radio station LaSalle and Wolfe owned, is devastated over the singer's death. Reid, who also manages LaSalle's Blues Legend Café, revealed that he had a chance to talk to the singer in Milan a few weeks before she died. At that time, he said she "was trying to get better."