Funeral Tuesday for Ortheia Barnes Kennerly

Susan Whitall
The Detroit News

The funeral service for Ortheia Barnes Kennerly, the veteran Detroit singer known for her rich alto voice and as well as her ministry and work in Africa, will be Tuesday.

A final public viewing will be 8:30-10:30 a.m. Tuesday at Hartford Memorial Baptist Church, 18700 James Couzens in Detroit. The family hour program, with testimonials and a video presentation, will begin at 11 a.m., followed by the funeral at noon.

"I am so appreciative of the outpouring of love and support received from everyone during this trying time'" her husband, Robert Kennerly, said in a Facebook posting. "Ortheia has been my angel and I will really miss her but she will always be in my heart just as she will in yours.

Barnes was to perform May 15 in St. Thomas, but she was rushed to the hospital when she became critically ill.

Ortheia Barnes sang on several Aretha Franklin records, including “Jumping Jack Flash” and “Another Night.”

"Some people come into our lives and quickly go," said WCHB-AM 1200 air personality Mildred Gaddis, a friend. "Some come and touch our hearts, stay for a while and we're never ever the same.

"Anybody who has the Ortheia Barnes Kennerly experience was never the same," said Gaddis. "She did not meet strangers. She was passionate about life. She loved people and she certainly loved Detroit."

Barnes attended Detroit's Northwestern and Cass Tech High schools and recorded as a solo artist for Westbound Records. She also sang on several Aretha Franklin records, including "Jumping Jack Flash" and "Another Night."

For a time in the 1980s, the singer owned the nightclub Ortheia's Place in Detroit. "Ortheia's Place" was also a local cable TV show she hosted.

Barnes was an ordained minister, the founder of SpiritLove Ministries International in Detroit. She served on the boards of innumerable nonprofits, including the March of Dimes and Spaulding for Children, and was the CEO/founder of the I Believe Coalition.