Her return


by Keisha Bell

Have you ever stepped away from something only to return to it again? Everything has its season. Purpose has its call.

Meet Thomasina Winifred Montgomery, more commonly known by millions as Tammi Terrell. A chanteuse born in Philadelphia on April 29, 1945, she died a month before her 25th birthday on March 16, 1970.

Terrell started singing at a very young age. Her talent was undeniable. She began winning singing contests by the age of 11. By 15, she was signed to a record label. Within three years, however, she left the initial label and signed with the James Brown Revue. Terrell and Brown were in a relationship.

Still desiring to sing, she signed with Checker Records. She released a duet, but it did not do as well as expected. Shortly afterward she enrolled in the University of Pennsylvania and majored in pre-med.

Two years later, Terrell was asked by Jerry Butler to sing with him in a series of shows in nightclubs. She agreed and again she was back at work doing what she loved, leaving a legacy through songs to be remembered by generations to come.

No one knows what tomorrow will bring. What if, however, Terrell had not returned to professional singing?

Well, for sure we would not have known “Tammi Terrell.” On her 20th birthday, she signed with Motown. What followed were a number of hit duets that Terrell is famously known for singing with Marvin Gaye, including  “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “Your Precious Love,” “If I Could Build My Whole World Around You,” and “If This World Were Mine.”

Terrell did not change her name until after she met Motown CEO Berry Gordy. Prior to meeting him, she was known as “Tammy Montgomery.”

Terrell died young. The exceptionally short timeframe really puts in perspective how important it is to persevere through the obstacles of life and to share our gifts and talents with others.

Keisha Bell

Keisha Bell

Terrell’s life illustrates that there will be difficult times. There will be people determined to hurt us. Her life is an example of the strength that lives within all of us. She shows us that it is alright to take a break, but to remain always open to hear purpose’s call.

We must listen — for her return.

Keisha Bell is an attorney, author and public servant. To reach Bell, email her at emergingfree@gmail.com or log on to www.emergingfree.com to view more of her work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

scroll to top