Etta James Biography
Etta James, born Jamesetta Hawkins, was an American vocalist who sang in a variety of genres, including gospel, blues, jazz, R&B, rock and roll, and soul. Beginning her career in 1954, she rose to fame with hits such as “The Wallflower,” “At Last,” “Tell Mama,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” She struggled with personal issues such as heroin addiction, severe physical abuse, and incarceration before making a musical comeback in the late 1980s with the album Seven Year Itch. James’s rich and earthy voice bridged the rhythm and blues and rock and roll divides. She received six Grammy Awards and seventeen Blues Music Awards.
In 1993, she was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, in 1999 into the Grammy Hall of Fame, and in 2001 into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2003, she was also honoured with a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. James was voted number 22 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, and she was also ranked number 62 on Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. James was named one of Billboard’s “35 Greatest R&B Artists of All Time” in 2015, with “gutsy, take-no-prisoner vocals colourfully interpreting everything from blues and R&B/soul to rock n’roll, jazz, and gospel.”
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame called hers “one of the greatest voices of her century” and says she is “forever the matriarch of blues.”
James was born in Los Angeles, California on January 25, 1938. James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir at the St. Paul Baptist Church in South Central Los Angeles, gave her her first professional vocal training when she was five years old. Hines assaulted James while she was in his care, frequently punching her in the chest while she sang to compel her voice to emerge from her stomach.
She rapidly gained a reputation for having an extremely powerful voice for a youngster her age. She met musician Johnny Otis when she was 14 years old. Otis also gave James her stage name at this time, transposing “Jamesetta” (her given first name) into “Etta James.” James recorded and was recognised as co-author for “The Wallflower” (a title change to the previously stated song, “Work with Me, Annie”), which was released in early 1955. The song’s original title was “Roll with Me, Henry,” but it was modified to circumvent censorship at the time (roll implying sexual activity). The song peaked at number one on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Tracks chart in February 1955. Because of their success, the Peaches were invited to open for Little Richard on his nationwide tour.
James began incorporating gospel influences into her music with the release of “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” which peaked at number four on the R&B chart and became a Top 40 pop smash. This triumph was immediately followed by “Stop the Wedding,” which peaked at number six on the R&B chart and featured gospel overtones. In 1963, she had another great hit with “Pushover,” and she released the live album Etta James Rocks the House, which was recorded at Nashville’s New Era Club. After a few years of moderate singles, James’ career began to decline after 1965. She returned to recording in 1967, after a time of seclusion, and reemerged with more gutsy R&B tracks courtesy to her sessions at Muscle Shoals’ famed FAME Studios.
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Frequently Asked Questions
James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, California, on January 25, 1938.James began her career in the early 1950s and went on to record hits like “At Last” and “I ’d Rather Go Blind.” She continued to tour and record until her death in 2012.
Why Etta James Is Most Famous?
Etta James is most famous for her powerful and emotive vocal style, which has earned her widespread critical acclaim. Throughout her career, she has developed a unique sound that combines elements of blues, soul, R&B, and gospel music. In addition to her vocal talents, James is also a skilled songwriter and pianist.
What Is Etta James’S Biggest Hit Album?
Etta James’s biggest hit album is At Last!, which was released in 1961. The album peaked at number two on the Billboard 200 chart and remained on the chart for over six months. It also reached number one on the R&B charts and was certified Gold by the RIAA.
How Many Albums Of Etta James?
Etta James released her first album, At Last!, in 1961. Since then, she has released a total of 28 studio albums, 3 live albums, and 1 compilation album. Her most recent album, The Dreamer, was released in 2011.
What Genre Is Etta James?
James was a versatile artist, capable of singing blues, gospel, soul, and pop with equal conviction.