Etta James 1938-2012

This is a big one. The Matriarch of Rhythm and Blues, original diva, Etta James has passed away this Friday morning of complications from leukemia at a hospital in Riverside, California. Her death was five days before her 74th birthday.

James’ ranging style spanned a variety of musical genres. She could sing the blues, wail that R&B, she could rock and roll, spit that soul, swing that jazz, and elevate you with gospel. Her career began in the mid 1950s and she was a winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. James leaves us as one of the greatest singers of all time.

The musical neophytes and new generation may recognize Etta James from the track Something’s Got a Hold on Me (above). The intro with Etta James’ luscious howl and soulful vocal riff has been sampled by a myriad of pop artists in recent years. From the good, Pretty Lights‘ Finally Moving (below). To the mediocre, Avicii‘s mega dance hit, Levels (below). To the not so great, Flo Rida‘s Good Feeling.

Etta James was a powerful and gifted performer. She will be greatly missed, but her legend endures.


Los Angeles Times: Etta James, acclaimed blues and R&B singer, dies at 73

The New York Times: Etta James, Powerful Voice Behind ‘At Last,’ Dies at 73

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