Legendary ‘Grand Ole Gal of the South’ Carmella Marcella Garcia passes away

Carmella Marcella Garcia performing during the Babes in Bonnets fundraiser at Parliament House in 2018. (Photo by Tabitha Widby)

(WM) George Timothy Reed, better known in the community as Carmella Marcella Garcia, passed away on Oct. 15 after a long-fought battle with cancer. He was 57. Reed was known in the drag community as the the “Grand Ole Gal of the South,” or just Mella to friends.

Reed started his career in Nashville in the mid 80’s performing at the Cabaret, Warehouse 28 and PLAY Dancebar. He worked in over 30 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Canada, according to OurCommunityRoots.com. The Kentucky-native won numerous titles and crowns including Miss Gay Orlando, Miss Gay Florida USofA, Miss Gay Florida America, Miss Gay USofA at Large and Miss Universe at Large, just to name a few. 

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Reed was a regular performer throughout Central Florida for many years frequenting the stages at Parliament House, Southern Nights and Pulse. Perhaps Reed’s most endearing legacy in Central Florida was the creation of Orlando’s Easter fixture Babes in Bonnets more than 20 years ago. Thanks to Reed’s vision, Babes in Bonnets has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for the LGBTQ youth of Central Florida since its beginnings.

Many friends, family and fans took to Facebook to share stories and pay tribute to the legendary performer.

Preparations are underway for a small memorial service in Reed’s hometown of Brownsville, Kentucky. Longtime friends of Reed’s will be producing a large celebration of life in Nashville later this year.

Reed is survived by his aunt, Anna Mae Evers; his uncle, Heyward Basham; and his cousins, Stephanie Gibson, Missy Hesson, Alison Holland, Michael “Slick” Reed and Anne Stewart.

Watch the Grand Ole Gal of the South perform below during the Parliament House’s 40th Anniversary celebration.