Barnes-Kennerly died Friday (5/15/15) morning in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where friends say she was to perform. She was 70 years old.
Her’s was an iconic voice in the city of Detroit, but for those who knew #Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly, she was much more than just a gifted vocalist.
“Everything Detroit stands for, Ortheia was about,” said Karen Dumas, former Detroit communications director and a close friend of the singer. “I mean she was just a great person. She was like a living hug,” she added.
Barnes-Kennerly was also an ordained minister who friends say displayed an unrivaled commitment to #Detroit.
Many saw her as a sister, mother and aunt figure. Former Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson called her death “surreal,” talking on the phone with Action News’ Glenda Lewis Friday evening.
“She was a sister to me, and your mom, the great Diana Lewis,” Watson told Lewis on the phone Friday evening. Of course, she loved the Lord. So she’s not lost. She’s not lost,” Watson added.
“She touched a lot of things. She was part of the fabric of the city,” Dumas said.
Barnes-Kennerly’s husband, Robert Kennerly, had posted on Facebook earlier that he was en route to St. Thomas. Via WXYZ – via Tumblr