Ora Denise Allen (July 16, 1939 – January 8, 2018), known by the stage name Denise LaSalle, was an American blues, R&B and soul singer, songwriter, and record producer who, since the death of Koko Taylor, had been recognized as the "Queen of the Blues".
She sat in with R&B musicians and wrote songs, influenced by country music as well as the blues, before winning a recording contract with Chess Records in 1967. Her first single, "A Love Reputation", was a modest regional hit.
She also wrote successful follow-ups, "Now Run and Tell That" and "Man Sized Job", which made #3 and #4 in the R&B Top Ten and also charted in the Hot 100. Her early hits were recorded at the Hi recording studios in Memphis, operated by Willie Mitchell, using the best southern session players. She continued to have hits on Westbound and then on ABC Records through the mid-1970s, including "Love Me Right" (#10 R&B, #80 pop); she also continued to perform live and to produce. Her co-penned song "Married, But Not to Each Other" (#16 R&B) was included on the 1979 compilation album The Best of Barbara Mandrell.
In the early 1980s, she signed as a singer and songwriter with Malaco Records, for whom she released a string of critically acclaimed albums over more than 20 years, starting with Lady in the Street (1983) and Right Place, Right Time (1984). Both albums became successful among soul blues, R&B and soul fans, and on urban radio stations.[which?] In 1985, she enjoyed her only recognition in the UK Singles Chart when her cover version of Rockin' Sidney's "My Toot Toot" reached #6.
She appeared at the 1984 and 1993 versions of the Long Beach Blues Festival. In 1993, she also performed at the San Francisco Blues Festival. Her album, Smokin' In Bed (1997), sold well. After more than a decade away, during which she recorded three albums with Ecko, a small Memphis-based soul-blues label, she returned to Malaco to release an album in 2010, titled 24 Hour Woman. She continued to work as a live performer, particularly at festivals, and more recently had branched out into the gospel genre.
LaSalle lived with her husband, James E. Wolfe, in Jackson, Tennessee, where she opened a restaurant called Blues Legend Café. The restaurant was located at 436 E. Main Street, but has since closed.
Her first marriage was to Bill Jones in 1969; they divorced in 1974. Both of them collaborated in producing records, and they went on to establish an independent production company, Crajon Records. In 1977, she married disc jockey James E. “Super Wolfe” Wolfe Jr.; she had two children.
After suffering from heart problems, and with complications from a fall having resulted in her right leg being amputated in October 2017, LaSalle died surrounded by her family, at the age of 78, on January 8, 2018.