In the wake of Etta James‘ cancer diagnosis and passing I was given the pleasure of learning about her and listening to some of her music. Not only did this woman live, but she had guts but she could belt her heart out! It’s always sad that it takes someone’s passing or getting ill before you realize and acknowledge their worth.
James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, on January 25, 1938, to a teen mother and unknown father. She suspected her father was the pool player Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone, the most recognized pool player in the United States of his time. They met briefly in 1987 but Fats would not confirm or deny that he was, in fact, her father. He died in 1995.
Her mother was neglectful and James was raised by a number of caregivers. Early on, she was recognized for her strong vocals and attended a South Central Los Angeles church where she’d put it on display.
In 1950, her mother took her to San Francisco, and James formed a group called the Peaches. The group was later mentored by singer Johnny Otis. However, Etta eventually left the group to become a solo act. In her career she would face many demons, including a drug and substance abuse addiction and garnered a reputation for her vulgar antics.
One thing can be said, however, she may very well be the best female blues singer of our time.
I’ve put together some tribute videos of songs some of you may have never heard but should. You hear the power in her voice and just how talented this woman was in the prime of her career. She will be missed. Enjoy.
“I’d Rather Go Blind”
“All I Could Do Was Cry”
“I Just Want To Make Love To You”
You might have heard the beginning of the song sampled for rapper Flo Rida‘s current single, “Good Feeling”. Check it out HERE, but for now her Etta’s original song below.
“Something’s Got A Hold On Me”
The song Etta became best know for.