With the celebration of hope and promise of a new year in 2023 also came times of mourning of beloved individuals unfortunately no longer with us, including the deaths of notable celebrities.
From trailblazing rappers, singers, and songwriters to skillful instrumentalists, to beloved actors of the stage and screen, we’ve had to bid farewell to a number of figures who not only paved a way for generations behind them but left lasting impacts on the culture and our hearts. We’ve also had to lay to rest public servants whose dedicated their life’s work to bettering life for Black communities in the United States and abroad.
Here, we remember those we’ve lost this year and the incredible mark they’ve left on history, culture, and the generations that follow.
Lola Chantrelle Mitchell, best known by her stage name Gangsta Boo while performing as a solo artist and alongside the legendary southern hip hop outfit Three 6 Mafia, passed away on January 1. She was 43 years old.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame drummer and longtime member of Earth, Wind, and Fire alongside his brothers Maurice and Verdine, White passed away on January 1 at the age of 67.
Perhaps most recognized as a top six finalist on American Idol in 2014, this country/soul singer passed away at age 31 on January 15.
The celebrated Motown singer and songwriter, best known for his vocals on “Money (That’s What I Want)” and his pen on classics like “I Heard It Through the Grapevine,” ”Just My Imagination,” and his Grammy-winning single “Papa Was a Rollin‘ Stone,” transitioned on January 28 at age 81.
One third of the legendary Hip-Hop group De La Soul, Trugoy the Dove passed away at the age of 54 on February 12.
An R&B crooner with classic Motown records, Jackson passed away at the age of 85 in Atlanta, GA on February 16.
Legendary Jazz saxophonist and composer, famed for his work with Miles Davis’s Second Great Quintet and Weather Report, passed away at age 89 on March 2.
Perhaps best known publicly for his role as Nipsey on the 90s sitcom Martin, Lampkim passed away at the age of 54 on March 17.
Perhaps best known for his impactful roles as Cedric Daniels on HBO’s classic crime series The Wire and Continental Hotel manager Charon in the much-beloved John Wick franchise, Reddick passed away at age 60 years on March 17.
Legendary Knicks player, New Jersey Nets Head Coach, Knicks Hall of Fame player and one of the 50 Greatest NBA Players of all time, Reed passed away on March 21 at the age of 80.
Beloved photojournalists, perhaps most famous for originating the term “Black is Beautiful” and highlighting that beauty through his vibrant photography throughout the mid-20th century, passed away at age 85 on April 1.
A barrier-breaking star of the stage, screen, and recordings, who also served as a key player in the Civil Rights Movement died peacefully in his NYC home on April 25. He was 96 years old.
All-time great NFL running back, Hollywood actor, and legend of football Jim Brown passed away peacefully at his Los Angeles home on May 18. He was 87 years old.
The legendary Queen of Rock & Roll passed away at her home in Switzerland at the age of 83.