Throwback Thursday: The Magic of Etta James

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.

At Last.

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!

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  1. Etta is one of my faves (Ella Fitzgerald is up there too)….prayers are with her and her family

  2. Something’s Got a Hold on Me is my favorite Etta song. #2 for me is PUSHOVER. I’m 39 and I just discovered her a couple of years ago!

  3. Great post. Thanks for sharing. I had never listened to Etta but I really like Somethings Got A Hold On Me.

  4. Mahogany Maverick says:

    Afrobella you kind of resemble her…

  5. Love your story. As a local Blues and Gospel artist, I love Etta and do her songs, everybody can’t do Etta. You have to feel and go were Etta went to do her. My new best song’s of her’s is”Damn your eyes” I cry with love, when I sing it.My heart prayers and much, much Love go out to her and her family!

  6. Thanks for sharing. Love Etta! My prayers go out to her and her family. I’d like to add another big tune to the list: ALL I COULD DO WAS CRY.

  7. I absolutely love, somethings got a hold on me. I love the tempo, the soul and how her personality and grit shine through beautifully and powerfully.

  8. Its sad to hear that she is ill. I love Etta James and you are right. No remake of At Last can top Etta’s!

  9. “Fool That I Am” is my all-time favorite Etta James song. Thanks for including it in your beautiful tribute to the songtress.

  10. Likewaterforchocolat says:

    I love Etta!

    The Wallflower (Roll with me Henry)
    All I Could Do Was Cry
    Sunday Kind of Love
    At Last
    I’d Rather Go Blind
    Good Rockin’ Daddy
    Embraceable You

  11. Thanks for those etta clips, i also love that song of her from caddillac records, i don’t know the name someting about a wedding , you have any clipsof etta performing that one, if you do please post

  12. I love Etta as well. Now this is totally random but I saw Roxanne Shante on Way Black When (the 80’s) and they definitely resemble each other- to me. Lots of love and prayers to Ms James.

  13. Tell It Like It Is! How has no one mentioned that song. Should totally be number one. Cant get through a break up without it.

  14. Etta is awesome, there is and never will be anyone like her. Her presence, her voice, amazing…At Last was my wedding song.

  15. Thanks for posting this. i feel the same- this woman deserves celebration!

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