Via: The Associated Press

Delois Barrett Campbell, a member of the award-winning Barrett Sisters trio who electrified audiences worldwide with their powerful gospel harmonies, died Tuesday. She was 85. The singer died at a Chicago hospital after a long illness, her daughter, Mary Campbell said.

The Barrett Sisters, raised on Chicago’s South Side and coached to sing by an aunt, grew up to become what music critic Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune has called “the greatest female trio in gospel history.” Campbell was the oldest of the three.

The trio shared a gospel lineage with the greats. In the girls’ youth, Thomas A. Dorsey, now considered the father of gospel, was stirring up change as music director of the city’s Pilgrim Baptist Church, where he mixed the worldly and the sacred during the Great Depression.

New generations discovered the Barrett Sisters when they appeared in the 1982 documentary “Say Amen, Somebody.”

New Yorker film critic Pauline Kael described the trio as “dramatic, physically striking women with ample figures in shiny, clinging blue gowns.” She wrote that they “sing so exhilaratingly that they create a problem.” Kael wanted more music, less talking, in the film.

The sisters appeared in Patti LaBelle’s 1990 television special “Going Home to Gospel.” In 2008, they received the Ambassador Bobby Jones Legend Award at the Stellar Awards, the national gospel music awards show.

Campbell’s husband, the Rev. Frank Campbell, died in 2000. The couple had four children; two are deceased.

The surviving members of the Barrett Sisters, Rodessa Barrett Porter and Billie Barrett GreenBey, sang with guest vocalist Tina Brown in March 2011 to celebrate Campbell’s 85th birthday at a gospel concert in a Chicago church. Campbell, her voice diminished to a whisper, watched from a chair near the altar.

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