“Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts.” - Beyonce, who portrayed Etta James in 2008′s Cadillac Records.
As someone whose musical taste was shaped from the rhythm and blues, Etta James is an artist who I’ve not only listened to incessantly, but who I’ve developed a great respect for as a powerful female and pioneer musician. Having paved the way, and influenced so many artists, both male and female, it’s truly inconceivable how pivotal her role was was in so many genres of music. Her journey from hopeless romantic, searching for her soul mate, to finding unrequited love at last is documented through songs that will without question carry on among the classics forever.
While her death is one of music’s greatest losses, it’s my hope that her passing will spark interest in those unfamiliar with Miss James’ music and story (and that we frown upon the musical injustice and travesty that was Flo-rida’s ‘Good Feeling’.) I have chosen my top 5 favorite songs from the Matriarch of R&B and do hope you will have a listen in her honor! Rest in Peace, Etta.
‘A Sunday Kind of Love’
‘I’d Rather Go Blind’
‘In the Basement’