Recent reports about Etta James left me truly disturbed and saddened as a longtime fan of her music. She just turned 73 on Tuesday. It’s been reported that she is currently suffering with leukemia and dementia. Her family is going through legal struggles to protect her assets, and just today a court ruled that her husband can use $60,000 of her money to provide for her medical care.
Etta James has always been feisty, strong, and true to herself. So to imagine her ailing, unsure and vulnerable is heartbreaking and reveals the cruelty of age. I hope Etta still remembers how talented she is and how her voice helped to influence generations of singers to follow. I hope she remembers her biggest and best moments on stage and in the studio. I hope age isn’t so awful as to rob her of that.
As a fan, I want to remember and celebrate the glory days. If you’re not familiar with Etta James, buckle up. This is going to be an amazing musical ride. Here are my top five stop-everything-and-listen Etta James faves.
Something’s Got a Hold On Me
This performance may be my absolute favorite. Etta is WORKING that blonde bouffant and that cat eye! Her voice is a phenomenon unto itself. And side note, I’d rock that cardigan. Everything about this performance is why I love her.
The quintessential wedding dance anthem. Etta’s voice is enormous and impressive and you can feel the heart and soul in her every syllable. Utterly gorgeous. No remake will ever touch the original. Ever.
I’d Rather Go Blind.
Etta + Dr. John = WIN. This performance of the two of those big, gritty voices belting out this classic slow burner…woo! It does things to my spirit.
Sunday Kind Of Love.
This is another one of those songs that will be often imitated, but will NEVER be duplicated. Who doesn’t want a Sunday kind of love? Especially the way Etta makes it sound?
Fool That I Am.
This isn’t Etta’s most popular, but there’s a particular ache in these lyrics that I’ve always loved. And there’s a lovely cover by Adele, that doesn’t try to emulate Etta’s version but instead pays successful homage. Adele FTW.
Those are my top five must-listen Etta James jams. If you like what you heard, treat yourself to the Definitive Collection.
Etta James, your fans love you and are sending prayers your way!