Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Most Lovely....Etta James

Hello Again Music Lovers,

It was a sad day this past week with the passing of the GREAT Etta James.  She represented light, SASS, and melody which was all brought to us via that Tremendous voice of hers.  She was a trailblazer for all the singers who close their eyes and with all their heart sing out any hurt, anguish, or passion that they are feeling.  She is one of my main influences to which I owe a debt of gratitude and admiration.

I can remember as if it was yesterday when I witnessed her greatness in person.  I attended a concert in Irvine, California in which she played right before the Wonderful Buddy Guy.  She was decked out in all Gold and she was a delight to see in all her glory.  When she came out and opened her mouth to sing.....there was a wave of silence and you could see around you that all eyes turned to lock on her and take it in!  For me, it was a moment when I told myself that I had a lot of work to do in regard to stage presence.  I wanted to be JUST LIKE HER!  To command attention and hold such a large crowd with just a few notes is something that many performers strive to do.  And she did this....without refrain and with all her might.

She was born in Los Angeles, California in 1938, and by the age of 5 she was a gospel prodigy.  There was NO holding her back!  By the age of 12 she moved to San Francisco, formed a trio, and soon became a bandleader for Johnny Otis.  She changed her name from Jamesetta Hawkins to Etta James and so began her rise to fame.  Being an instrumental component to the success of Chess Records was also her destiny.  She made her mark with the songs At Last, All I Could Do Was Cry, and Trust In Me, but there have been many since that have made her INCREDIBLY SOULFUL voice available to all that would appreciate it.  Inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame (1993), Blues Hall of Fame (2001), and Grammy Hall of Fame (in both 1999 and 2008) were only a few of her accomplishments.  She also counted many Grammies in her list of awards.  She has garnered the respect of fellow artists because she was "The Gold Standard," and there will NEVER be another like her.  She blazed a trail that has made it possible for many of the singers around today to have the success that they do.

She was a soul singer of the greatest order, and she was a Force of Nature.  To hear her sing is to love her.  Sweet melody coupled with raw emotion is how I choose to describe that voice.  I recommend searching out her tunes wherever you can find them.  Listen to how she brings life and FIRE to the tunes that made her famous.  You WILL NOT regret doing so.  I guarantee you.

The three videos I have here are all courtesy of YouTube (which I am sure you have noticed already).  I say a big thank you to the wonderful people that have placed them.  There are many more, and I know that you will enjoy your adventure of seeking her out.

Til next time,


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