Barnes-Kennerly recorded in the 1960s for Detroit's Mickay Records and Coral Records, a Decca Records label. While never signing with Motown Records, she opened for a number of its stars, including Wonder, Marvin Gaye and Gladys Knight. She was the sister of singer-songwriter J.J. Barnes.
Barnes died in May 2015, in St. Thomas in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she went for a performance, friend and bass player, Ralphe Armstrong told the Detroit Free Press. She had at least two strokes in recent years and died of heart failure, she was 70.
- "Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly dies at 70; opened for Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
- "Detroit singer Ortheia Barnes dies at 70". WXYS News. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 23 May 2015.
- "Detroit R&B-Jazz Singer Ortheia Barnes-Kennerly Dead at 70". ABC News. Retrieved 23 May 2015.