Everlasting Life of Etta

Thesis Statement

James’s powerful, deep, earthy voice, and well versed bibliography inspired modern day soul and R & B artist such as Beyonce, Jazmine Sullivan , and Ari Lenox. 

Artist History

Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, California on January 25, 1938; her mother was just 14 years old at the time, and she never knew her father, though she would later say she had reason to believe he was the well-known pool hustler Minnesota Fats. James was raised by friends and relatives instead of her mother through most of her childhood, and it was while she was living with her grandparents that she began regularly attending a Baptist church. James’ voice made her a natural for the choir, and despite her young age she became a soloist with the group, and appeared with them on local radio broadcasts. 

Professional Career

When Etta James was 5 year old she became a well know as a gospel prodigy. She became famous by singing in her church choir and on the radio. When she was 12, she moved north to San Francisco, where she was a trio under bandleader Johnny Otis.  In 1954, she moved to Los Angeles to record “The Wallflower”  with the Otis band. She changed and shortened her name to Etta James  and her vocal group was dubbed “the Peaches. Soon after, James launched her solo career with such hits as “Good Rockin’ Daddy” in 1955. , and scored a number of hits for the label, including “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “My Dearest Darling,” and “Trust in Me.” by the time she was 21 she was a heroin addict, and found it increasingly difficult to balance her habit with her career, especially as she clashed with her producers at fought to be paid her royalties. She bounced back onto the R&B charts with the tunes “Tell Mama” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” 

When I'm singing Blues, I'm Singing Life
Etta James


Rolling Stone magazine ranked James number 22 on its list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time. She’s is also ranked number 62 on its list of theB Artists Of All Time. Etta James has won a total of six grammy awards and 17 blues music awards. She’s has been inducted to the Grammy Hall of Fame, Blues Hall of Fame, and the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. 


Some notable music from her career Include “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “My Dearest Darling,” and “Trust in Me.” W R&B charts with the tunes “Tell Mama” and “I’d Rather Go Blind.” 


Etta James music was inspired by numerous gospel artist and negro spiritual influences. Since she grew up in the church at a young age a lot of her vocal techniques were shaped by women gospel singers at the time. Other key influences are Ma Rainey and Bessie Smith. Other blues and soul artist inspired James’s sound. Etta Sung things with passion and grit like label mate Muddy Waters. 

Social Involvement

In the Film Cadillac Records Etta James was portrayed by Beyonce who recorded her won studio version of James classic songs. She was also invited to perform the famous song ” At Last at Barack Obama’s inaugural ball. James made headlines when during a concert she said “I can’t stand Beyonce she had no business up there singing my song that I’ve been singing forever.” James said that the statement was meant to be a joke — “I didn’t really mean anything…even as a little child, I’ve always had that comedian kind of attitude”.

Death and Funeral

"Etta is my all-time favorite singer," Aguilera told MTV News at the time. "I've said it for the last seven years — since I had my first debut record out — in every interview, in every story, in every on- and off-camera question. I mean, all of Etta's old songs, countless songs I could name, I grew up listening to. That music was always such a huge escape for me, even from a young age."
Christina Agullira

Cadillac Records

The Film Cadillac Records is about the Chicago based record company Chess Records as it negated the 1950s and 1960s Blues era. Notable artist such as Chuck Berry, Muddy Water and Etta James were portrayed in the Film. Etta James was played by Beyonce were she record popular versions of many of Etta James Songs. In the film it lighted James talents along side her personal struggles and rocky relationship with Record Company Owner Leonardo Chess.


Etta James was a powerhouse who sung with a lot of passion and soul. She inspired and paved the way for many R&B artist such as Jennifer Hudson, Beyonce and Jazmine Sullivan. These women are authentically real and sing about the heart aches and struggles they face on a daily. These singer style is similar to Etta James.











10.) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Etta_James

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