Etta James Dies at 73
Etta James is an iconic songstress who’s music crossed multiple genres ranging from blues to jazz, R&B, gospel, soul, and even Rock & Roll. She began her career in the 1950’s when she was signed to Chess Records in Chicago. She faced many hurdles along the way, and got heavily involved with drugs, but eventually got back on track, and incredibly rewarded for her contribution to music.
James was born Jamesetta Hawkins to an African American mother, Dorothy Hawkins, and rumored to have a Caucasian father that has never been officially identified. The “platinum hair” singer is known for bridging the gap between R&B and Rock & Roll. She has won six Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. She was also ranked number twenty-two on the Rolling Stone list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number sixty-two on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.
James is most known from songs such as At Last, All I Could Do Was Cry, I’d Rather Go Blind, and a slew of other hits. A few of her songs were featured in the film, Cadillac Records, where James was portrayed by singer, Beyonce. The film documented a small portion of James’ life, showing the rise and fall of her career. Beyonce’s re-recording of At Last reminded fans of how amazing that song was, and led to the song being reborn and placed back on the charts. Beyonce even sang the song at the Inaugural Ball for President Barack Obama and First Lady MIchelle Obama’s first dance. James was reportedly not happy with it, but it was also said that she was joking when she made her comments against the song. I’m sure James was happy to have the singer pay homage to her, as Beyonce has said on multiple occasions how much the singer has inspired and influenced her.
While James may have had a rough, drug addicted past, it definitely bettered her music. One could hear the pain in her voice, and her rough vocals, which weren’t too common for female vocalists at the time, allowed listeners to emotionally connect to the song. She definitely brought something different to the music world, and her current absence won’t go unnoticed. She died due to a long battle with chronic leukemia at the age of 73. We will definitely keep her and her family in prayer at this time.
Check out this video of James singing back in 1962!
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