ForeverMissed
This memorial website was created in honor of Yolande Bruce, who was a beloved jazz vocalist in the Twin Cities. While we are all deeply saddened that she is no longer with us, anyone who knew Yolande knows that she would want this page to be in her joy, flavor and spirit. We invite everyone to share their life stories, photos, tributes, videos of her singing, and memories. 

As her family, we will continue to update this page with a formal write up about her life. In the meantime, you can learn more about Yolande by reading the following pieces that were written after she passed:

https://www.twincities.com/2021/03/11/much-loved-o...

https://www.startribune.com/gifted-beloved-minneso...

Yolande was truly a shining star of the Twin Cities.  

P.S.
Yolande discussed many things in her life, including her "dream funeral." She always expressed that she wanted something outside of the box where everyone who wanted to be there could gather in joy, song and her spirit. More recently, she expressed that she did not want a service to happen immediately if it needed to be mostly virtual because of Covid-19. This means that we will be waiting to do a formal service and concert for her until everyone can gather safely. Details will be announced when they are finalized.
Posted by Erika Erika on April 16, 2021
I still can not believe Yo is gone. Yo was a shining light in any room she entered. There are no words that can describe the loss. My prayers are with Miles, Brooke, Leslie, Tommy and the rest of the family. I hope there is comfort in knowing Yo was loved by many and lived her life to the fullest doing what she loved. Although gone way too soon, and she is missed dearly. GOD has gained another angelic choir member. Peace and Blessings Always in our hearts Love Erika and Greta Keaton
Posted by Jill McAdams on March 25, 2021
Yo was truly a community big sister, auntie, big momma, and friend. She enjoyed her life and used her God-given gifts every day. I was always amazed at how much energy she had before shows, after sets and in between while greeting her audiences. Every time she talked about her son Miles, she cried. She was a proud momma bear and couldn't hide her love and gratitude for bearing such wonderful fruit. We were blessed to have her in our extended family and we will always set a spiritual place for her at our family cookouts. RIH Yo.
Posted by Yoli Murphy on March 21, 2021
Yo-Small was an amazingly talented, generous, kind and loving person. I am so grateful to have known her and had the chance to spend so much time with her during my last visit to MN. She left a legacy of music, joy, laughter and beautiful memories - along with one of the most mature, talented, kind and loving sons anyone could wish for. Yo lives on in Miles and in the memories that bring a smile to each of us - she will never be forgotten.
Rest easy, wear your sparkly shoes every day and keep singing as only you know how Yo-Small - we hear you every time we think of you....and that is often.
Until we meet again,
Yo-Tall
Posted by Lisa Mann Shelly on March 17, 2021
Our deep felt condolences to you Miles, your uncles, and the entire family. We were next door neighbors and grew up together — we loved us some Roberta and Yolanda was like another sister. I saw her a couple years back here in Los Angeles — she was beautiful as ever and we had a lovely time eating and laughing. She is now safe in God’s loving arms . Rest easy YoYo.
Posted by Kim Green on March 16, 2021
Yolande was a beautiful spirit and a breath of fresh air! One Sunday while directing the choir, she famously reached up and shifted her hair back into place! It took all we had to keep singing and not fall out laughing! I will always remember her laugh, facial expressions and sense of humor. We had some great times when she hung out with my family. She and my Mom both cut up and adored each other ❤️. Obviously God blessed her with a beautiful voice and it was such a joy to see how she used that awesome gift. You don’t have to look any further than Miles to see that she was an amazing Mom that raised an amazing son. Keeping Miles, Leslie, Brooke and all of those dear to Yolande in prayer....
Posted by Kim-Marie Walker on March 16, 2021
Miles, this tribute site is so awesome. Thank You. On behalf of the Rondo Community’s extended Walker Hill Parks Family: Heartfelt condolences on the passing of your Mother; with extended condolences to all family members.

My sister, Mary Ann got to talk with Yolande earlier this year and I feel blessed by proxy. Rondo memory: Our families lived on Iglehart St., across from each other. Yolande and I used to play together with our ‘troll’ dolls in the mid1960s. We made them clothes and spruced up shoeboxes and cardboard boxes to build troll ‘mansions’ – with paper steps and scribbled curtains and picture frames on the walls. I remember playing and sitting in the staircase over at her house/duplex, making up troll stories. Will forever cherish our laughter and innocence playing make believe; and outside antics playing 2 and 4 square, Red Rover, jacks, hop-scotch, and getting candy from Mr. Toussaint when he drove down the street.

After 30+ yrs living in Alaska, I returned abt 11 years ago and saw Yolande perform/emcee at Selby Jazz Fest, Penumbra, and I think, TwinCities JazzFest. She graciously sang at my parents going home celebrations at St. James AME (2010 & 2012). Saw her perform at Crooners twice in 2019, one of which was on my wedding anniversary. Got a chance to hug, reminisce, and say, “Hey Yo, love you.”

Thank You for gifting us this space to continue basking in Yolande’s light. May you go well, always.
Posted by Barbara Kingsley on March 15, 2021
Yolande brought such grace, fire and humor to her portrayal of Mamie Warren in the Full Circle/Guthrie Theater production of Under This Roof. I will always carry deep gratitude that she chose to partner with my words and breathe life into them in her first dramatic straight play.

Yo - borrowing from Raymond to Mamie: "... dumb struck in the presence of a miracle ... I got to pray for wings 'cuz angels got their arms round ya ..."

Yolanda, you warmed us like the sun.
Posted by Victoria Robinson on March 13, 2021
Yolande was such a Beautiful Songbird with a beautiful spirit inside and out.
I love our Sunday dinners after church and discussing
everything under the sun even our shoe game
Miles you are truly a blessing and may God continue to guide and watch over you.

RIH Songbird
Posted by Jay Baxter on March 13, 2021
Such a beautiful spirit.. now she is your eternal angel walking with you everyday...

Colossians 1:11

May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, may peace be with you always. Lean on others for strength. Pray when it hurts.. stay focused on the kingdom of god.. that is where her soul is resting... be well
Posted by Yvette Young on March 13, 2021
So hard hearing this news and being so far away. She and I were friends before neighbors, we were co-workers and during my five years of teaching "Savings and Financial Literacy", she enrolled in my class. During that time, I conducted one-on-one budget counselling with her. Since she and I worked in the same building downtown St. Paul, she'd always say "Vette, I wanna know how to save and plan for my retirement" "just tell me how you're doing this" in order that you'll be able to retire so young"? My heart hurts for Miles and her fam. However I know she's in a far better space now. She was kind n sweet. This is my memory of her not to mention her beautiful voice just like her Mom. Rest easy sis
Posted by Charissa Jones on March 13, 2021
I knew Yolande much of my life. Music was ministry to Yolande. I am forever grateful to Yolande for her contribution to directing a choir, "Rance Majestic Choir", I sang in, and a choir, "Spirit of Christ", my daughters sang in, back in the day at Pilgrim Baptist Church. Yolande used her "God given" talent to make sure we hit the right notes while ministering to those listening. I also loved to see Yolande perform (sing and act) in theaters, dinner clubs, outdoor arenas and more. Yolande had a kind and giving spirit. I will miss Yolande. RIP
Posted by Judi Vinar on March 12, 2021
I will always remember Yolande's fabulous singing and joyful persona. My fondest memories of her include when I subbed for Connie years ago (Moore by Four). Yo was literally keeping a constant eye on me to make sure I had everything I needed; from entrances and notes, to dance steps. I was pretty nervous about the show and so thrilled to be subbing in that band. She made me feel right at home from the beginning of the journey. I also learned some great "tricks" for my choir from Yolande. I'm grateful that we had a few chances to share the stage and the greenroom. Holding Yolande's family and countless friends/colleagues in my heart.

Leave a Tribute

 
Recent Tributes
Posted by Erika Erika on April 16, 2021
I still can not believe Yo is gone. Yo was a shining light in any room she entered. There are no words that can describe the loss. My prayers are with Miles, Brooke, Leslie, Tommy and the rest of the family. I hope there is comfort in knowing Yo was loved by many and lived her life to the fullest doing what she loved. Although gone way too soon, and she is missed dearly. GOD has gained another angelic choir member. Peace and Blessings Always in our hearts Love Erika and Greta Keaton
Posted by Jill McAdams on March 25, 2021
Yo was truly a community big sister, auntie, big momma, and friend. She enjoyed her life and used her God-given gifts every day. I was always amazed at how much energy she had before shows, after sets and in between while greeting her audiences. Every time she talked about her son Miles, she cried. She was a proud momma bear and couldn't hide her love and gratitude for bearing such wonderful fruit. We were blessed to have her in our extended family and we will always set a spiritual place for her at our family cookouts. RIH Yo.
Posted by Yoli Murphy on March 21, 2021
Yo-Small was an amazingly talented, generous, kind and loving person. I am so grateful to have known her and had the chance to spend so much time with her during my last visit to MN. She left a legacy of music, joy, laughter and beautiful memories - along with one of the most mature, talented, kind and loving sons anyone could wish for. Yo lives on in Miles and in the memories that bring a smile to each of us - she will never be forgotten.
Rest easy, wear your sparkly shoes every day and keep singing as only you know how Yo-Small - we hear you every time we think of you....and that is often.
Until we meet again,
Yo-Tall
Recent stories
Shared by Lori Wilson on March 13, 2021
After Karen passed away, you joined my family in one of the things Karen loved to do...  Watch the Timber Wolves.  Thank you Yo for all of your love and support.  I will miss you sis.  

Tribute from Penumbra Theater

Shared by Miles Davison on March 12, 2021
Earlier this week you may have read that one of our beloved company members, Yolande Bruce, passed away. We are deeply saddened by her passing, even as we find some relief in knowing that she was surrounded by beloved family members, friends, and her devoted son Miles in her last moments.
Yolande’s long career is brightly lit with so many accomplishments, but I always knew her best through her devotion and service to Penumbra. Until this year, Yolande had been performing in Penumbra’s Black Nativity for over two decades. Her crystalline voice could hush the room and focus our attention on the quietest moments or get our fingers snapping and feet tapping along with her irrepressible joy. Many of us marveled at her ability to improvise while performing; it was magical to watch her start scatting during a song. We all went on a journey of discovery together.
In order to improvise like that, Yolande was incredibly disciplined in her artistry. Her work ethic, her precision, her commitment to the creative process was remarkable. She found the light in others; always had an encouraging word and dared those around her to stretch and take up space. In many ways it was seeing her work ethic that compelled other artists to trust themselves as she urged them along. Those who regularly attend Black Nativitywill remember her brilliant solos as well as the moments when Yolande would turn upstage to direct the choir as they raised their voices in joyful celebration. What you may not know is that Yolande was standing in the very same spot her mother, Roberta Davis, had once stood to direct the choir before her—a poignant nod to the power of legacy and ancestry.
It is also a powerful testimony to the importance of community gathering spaces like Penumbra; we wouldn’t exist without amazing people deciding to make part of their lives here. Yolande believed in community, in gathering, in celebrating, and in the history and legacy of our theatre. Yolande chose to make part of her life here and for that we are forever grateful.
As I mourn her passing, my heart breaks also for so many of our other company members who loved Yolande deeply and for so long. I know that they are hurting right now and I so wish that we could come together as an artistic family to celebrate her life and console one another. Each day since her passing I have been trying to radiate love outward because I feel that is what Yolande did in her art and her life. It’s my small way of honoring her in isolation from community right now.
Please join me in sending love and peace to her loved ones whose grief is compounded by the loss of togetherness, the many losses experienced during this difficult year, and the loss of a light that shone so brightly in our midst.
We love you, Yolande.
May you rest in peace and power.
With abiding love,
Sarah