Vesta Williams Found Dead In Hotel Room, Prescription Drug Overdose Suspected

Vesta Williams Found Dead In Hotel Room, Prescription Drug Overdose Suspected

In what seems to be a never-ending line of tragic and unnecessary deaths, R&B Singer Vesta Williams passed away in her hotel room in Los Angeles on September 22. While toxicology results won't be available for 4 to 6 weeks, according to law enforcement officers on the scene, there were several bottles of prescription drugs found in her hotel room, and several were completely empty. Underneath Williams' tiny frame lied a powerful and soulful, larger than life voice. Her early success as a singer came as a background vocalist for numerous well-known artists, from Chaka Khan, to Luther Vandross, to Anita Baker and Sting.

At one time, Williams sang in the group "Wild Honey," which was headed by her cousin, the late R&B singer Ron Townsend. She also sang on TV commercials. Her career took off when she made the charts in 1986 with her song "Once Bitten, Twice Shy". That song was on her first solo album "Vesta." Her album "Vesta-4-U," released two years later, included the popular songs "Sweet, Sweet Love" and "Congratulations". She had also done some work in television and the movies, including parts as a saloon singer in Mario Van Peebles' 1993 flick "Posse", and her recurring role in the television sitcom "Sister, Sister" as actress Jackee Harry's best friend Monica.

The 5-foot-3 Williams had also battled weight problems. At one time in the 1990's she ballooned to a size 26 dress. She went on an intense weight loss program, and dropped 100 pounds to get back to her original size 6. She once told Ebony magazine that she began gaining weight rapidly after her singing career began to falter. She blamed her obesity on the loss of her recording contract. When asked about that, she said "When I lost my record deal and my phone wasn't ringing, I realized that I had to reassess who Vesta was and figure out what was going wrong," she said. "I knew it wasn't my singing ability. So it had to be that I was expendable because I didn't have the right look." She later became an advocate for the prevention of childhood obesity and juvenile diabetes. She had recently been working on material for a new album.

Her latest release was "Relationships," and included a number of her original songs plus a cover of one of her favorite Stevie Wonder tracks, "You and I." Her final performance was on September 17, 2011 in Portsmouth, Virginia, performing at the Autumn Jazz Explosion." Williams was scheduled to perform at the 21st annual "DIVAS Simply Singing!" in Los Angeles on October 22. The show has stated that it will now be paying tribute to her and the late singer, Teena Marie. She was also scheduled to be the subject of an upcoming episode of "Unsung" on TVOne. Vesta Williams was 53 years old.

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