Legendary Detroit church choir is likely the greatest ever assembled

Jackie Wilson, Della Reese among stars who started in choir


DETROIT – The greatest choir ever assembled is from right here in Detroit.

Before they became stars, a group of church singers at New Liberty Baptist Church in Detroit gathered in the early 1950s and blew the doors off the building. (Figuratively, of course).

Willie Jones, a member of the choir and former lead singer of "The Royal Jokers," told us the story of the legendary choir. He's actually setting out on a European tour soon, so keep an eye out for dates.

Watch Alex Atwell's Uniquely Detroit feature story on the choir in the video player above.

Here's who else was in the choir:

Jackie Wilson (Mr. Excitement)

  • Born in Detroit in 1934
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1987
  • National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame 2013
  • Fourteen top 20 pop hits, six of which reached the top 10

Little Willie John

  • Grew up in Detroit, 1941
  • Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 1996
  • Michigan Rock and Roll Legends Hall of Fame 2016
  • National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame 2014
  • John made the Billboard Hot 100 a total of fourteen times

Della Reese

  • Born in Detroit, 1931
  • Scored first hit with 1959's "Don't You Know?"
  • Hosted her own talk show, Della, running 197 episodes in 1960s
  • Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame 2017
  • In 1970, Reese became the first black woman to guest host The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
  • Starred in "Touched by an Angel"

About the Authors: