R&B singer and actress Della Reese passed away at her home in California on Sunday, 19 November. She was 86 years old.

Reese's death was confirmed by her Touched by an Angel co-star Roma Downey, who in her statement, said the latter was "a mother to me".

"She was an incredible wife, mother, grandmother, friend, and pastor, as well as an award-winning actress and singer," Downey said. "Through her life and work she touched and inspired the lives of millions of people."

Downey continued, "She was a mother to me and I had the privilege of working with her side by side for so many years on 'Touched by an Angel.' I know heaven has a brand new angel this day. Della Reese will be forever in our hearts."

CBS also issued a statement, wherein it praised Reese's contribution to the TV industry, saying she "delivered encouragement and optimism to millions of viewers" during the nine years as a cast of its hit show Touched By An Angel.

"We will forever cherish her warm embraces and generosity of spirit. She will be greatly missed. Another angel has gotten her wings," the statement read.

Born in Detroit in 1931 as Delloreese Patricia Early, Reese began singing at church when she was only six years old.

She began her music career playing gospel music starting with her own group called the Meditation Singers, but later took interest in Jazz. Reese made numerous hit songs like Don't You Know, And That Reminds Me and Someday (You'll Want Me to Want You). She was nominated for four Grammy Award nominations in her career.

Talking about her acting career, Reese started as an actress in 1969 with her show Della, which ran for nearly 200 episodes. A year later, she was co-host to Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show and the first black woman to do so.

In 1994, Reese started in the CBS series Touched by an Angel that aired for 211 episodes. She was twice nominated for an Emmy and a Golden Globe for her role in the popular religious fantasy series, which concluded in 2003.