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Della Reese touches on her life onstage, in church and on ‘Angel’

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Woman of many talents: Della Reese — singer
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Della Reese has covered a lot of ground in her 60-year career. She’s been a gospel singer, recording artist, nightclub performer, talk show host, film and television actress and — for the past 25 years — an ordained minister. She’ll bring all those facets to her debut at the Rrazz Room on Thursday.

“I tell some funny stories. I sing my hits and I sing some other songs,” she says. “I talk about my family. It’s like being in my living room and having a nice afternoon or evening.”

It’s been a while since Reese has played a venue in The City, but a visit in 1959 will always stay with her.

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“I was playing in San Francisco when my father died, and I had to cut the engagement short and go back and bury my father,” she recalls. “I don’t remember where I was playing, but that’s a big part of my memories of San Francisco.”

That same year, she had a Billboard R&B hit with “Don’t You Know?” by Bobby Worth, which was an adaptation of “Musetta’s Waltz” from Puccini’s “La Bohème.”

Reese’s greatest entertainment industry success came with “Touched By An Angel,” the decadelong CBS show about a trio of spirits sent to assist mortals in trouble. The show ceased production in 2002, but Reese stayed close to co-star John Dye until his death here last year.

“He was alive all the time he was alive,” she says.

The Detroit native, now living in Los Angeles, has also remained close to sister angel Roma Downey.

“Roma? Roma’s my daughter. I’m the godmother of her child. We just had Christmas together and we see each other at least once a month.”

She’d happily reprise her “Angel” character Tess. “I’d do it in an instant.” Surprisingly, she’s hasn’t heard revival or reunion talk.

“There never has been an attempt,” she says. “I don’t understand why not. Roma doesn’t either.”

While she says today’s television “has its ups and downs,” she does like the trend toward music talent shows giving entertainers a start.

“I’d love to do Mark’s show, ‘The Voice,’” Reese says, “but I haven’t been asked to do that.”

Mark is, of course, British producer Mark Burnett, who is married to Downey and produced “Touched By An Angel” and other hits.

The bulk of her energies today are channeled into her ministry with Understanding Principles for Better Living Church, where she is the Rev. Dr. Della Reese Lett.

“I’ve had the very best of everything in my career,” she says. “I have to accept that the business that I’m in is the business of young people. I’m 80 years old and I’m not showing boobs and tubes. I have some nice hips,” she laughs, “but I’m not out to shake them!”

IF YOU GO

Della Reese

Where: Rrazz Room, Hotel Nikko, 222 Mason St., San Francisco

When: 8 p.m. Thursday-Friday, 7:30 p.m. Saturday  

Tickets: $65

Contact: (800) 380-3095, www.therrazzroom.com

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