I have some sad news to pass on, which by now you may already know; Etta James, soul singer extraordinaire has passed away after a long battle with leukaemia and dementia. The former Jamesetta Hawkins died just days before her 74th birthday. Unfortunately she was never as successful as some of her contemporaries such as Diana Ross. Personally I feel that Etta’s voice was streets ahead of Ms. Ross.
Etta seemed to be able to turn her voice to many different styles; soul, blues, rock and even some bawdy numbers. My lovely wife Catherine aka Catwoman wanted a special mention in this post as Etta’s “At Last” was the first song played after we signed the register at our wedding last September. That is one of many songs played that day that still mean a lot to us both.
Etta had a hard life being mostly abandoned to a number of carers by her 14-year-old mother after her birth in 1938. She also struggled against a serious drug addiction for many years. She has been the recipient of six Grammys including two for her earlier songs; the previously mentioned “At Last” and “The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)”. Both were Grammy Hall Of Fame Awards in 1999 and 2008 respectively for qualitative or historical significance. “The Wallflower” was her only US R & B number one back in 1955 when she was still a teenager.
My thoughts go out to her family, friends and fans. RIP Etta James.