Vesta Williams, the 80’s diva known for her powerful voice, was found dead in her California hotel room in September 2011. Though news sources have reported the singer was 48 years old, Williams can be seen in a 2010 interview saying she was 53.
Williams scored a big hit with “Congratulations,” a song about a woman who is distraught upon learning that her former lover is getting married. “Congratulations,” with its vocal acrobatics and dramatic story, became a talent show staple.
In the 1990s, Williams made headlines for her dramatic weight loss. She told Ebony that she started to rapidly gain weight when her singing career began to falter. Williams, who was 5-foot-3, eventually reached a size 26. She said her size was the reason she lost her recording contract.
“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.”