Zadella Curtis began her career in Gospel Music at the age of 3 when she sang her first solo in her home church, Rayfield Baptist Church. By age 12 she was directing choirs. Her vocal and music mentor was her Godfather, Mr. Phillip Gilbert. Born and raised in the city that is considered the home of Gospel Music, Chicago Illinois, she was exposed to some of the best in the field. On any given Sunday there was a musical or concert featuring Gospel Music notables such as Rev. Clay Evans and Fellowship,
Rev. Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Choir,
Maceo Woods, The Caravans, and many other prominent artists.
Zadella Curtis was reared in a Gospel Music environment. Her grandfather and uncles sang quartet where vocal arrangement, tone, and harmonizing was perfected before performing.
Zadella began her career in radio over 40 years ago. It started by supporting a friend who was working at a college radio station WLUW 88.7FM (Loyola University). She would stop by and watch him while he was on air. One day her friend could not make his shift and asked if she would fill in for him. With help from the station engineer she did it and the rest is history. Eventually she was asked to do her own show from 3:00am to 6:00am. From college radio she moved to community radio WSSD 88.1 FM and was mentored by Pastor Felecia Campbell at WWHN 1510AM radio, all in Chicago. Later she was approached by Melvin Couch of New Sound Entertainment to work for him in promotions and marketing gospel music.
As she began building her career within the Gospel Music Industry her roles kept expanding. She is known to many as Mama Curtis. Zadella was dubbed Mama Curtis when her oldest daughter Toi wanted to start a Gospel Choir at her high school (Hyde Park High) which, by the way, was the alma mater of Zadella and her mother.
This made 3 generations attending the same high school.. The school required a parent sponsor. What was supposed to be just 3 months of sponsorship turned into 10 years and a rewarding life experience. Hyde Park High School Gospel Choir became an award-winning choir known all over the state of Illinois, producing college graduates of doctors, lawyers, nurses and those of various academic accomplishments. From this experience Mama Curtis acquired 312 adopted grandchildren and 73 great-grandchildren.
Mama Curtis’ diligence and movements within the industry didn’t go unnoticed Mother Ruby Summerville-Dixon a highly respected veteran in the industry who worked with the American Gospel Quartet Convention became a mentor to Mama Curtis. She gained a wealth of knowledge working with quartets and became an intricate part in promoting that genre.
Along with having worked at various radio stations she also worked for Nu Wave Records out of Jackson, MS, Curtis Taylor CEO and the late Bishop G. E. Patterson and Bountiful Blessings recording ministry.
Mama Curtis is a charter member of SAGMA (Stellar Awards Gospel Music Academy), Chicago Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals. Serves as Ambassador for the Texas Gospel Music Excellence Award, member of the Gospel Music Workshop of America Alliance, and the National Association of Music Promoters and Managers founded by Pastor Barbara McLaughlin.
Currently Mama Curtis mentors those that aspire to become on air personalities and she is a consultant for Independent Artist seeking help in navigating the Gospel Music Industry.
Much of her success within the Gospel Industry comes from her first love which is the ministry of helps. She uses this gift as a mantra and her favorite saying “If I can help someone, as I pass along, then my living will not be in vain”.