Etta James

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New releases by Etta James, Leela James link old and new soul music

A music review

By Stephani Maari Booker

Associate Editor


Like many people who weren’t even born during that time, I’m most familiar with the late music legend Etta James through her 1961 classic “At Last.” She had a long string of hits on the R&B/soul chart starting in the mid-1950s (with her biggest hit period in the ’60s) and ending in the late 1970s while hitting the pop chart occasionally as well. I only know a handful of James’ hits as they were sung by James, including “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” and “You Can Leave Your Hat On” — many of the songs she recorded were covered by other artists, including Janis Joplin (“Tell Mama”) and Joe Cocker (“You Can Leave Your Hat On”). The 2008 film about Etta James’ 1960s record label Chess Records, Cadillac Records, and then her death this year have renewed interest in the great singer’s career and music, which has probably led to the July 24 release of Etta James: Live at Montreux 1975-1993 by Eagle Rock Entertainment. The CD is a collection of songs from four different performances by James at the Montreux Jazz Festival, the famed multi-artist, multi-genre (despite its name) showcase held yearly since 1967 in Switzerland. The track selection is lopsided when it comes to how many songs are from which Etta James performances: More than half the tracks are from her 1993 show, three are from 1975 and one each from 1977 and 1989. Continue Reading →

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Media quickly hypes Etta James dissing Beyoncé



It’s sad that blues immortal Etta James responded as she did to Beyoncé Knowles’ serenading President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle at the inaugural ball with Knowles’ rendition of James’ classic, “At Last.” James derided Beyoncé in a vitriolic diatribe that did not befit the dignity of James, Knowles or, for that matter, President Obama. And the media couldn’t wait to jump on it with all four feet. There is no denying that, for instance, “She had some nerve singin’ my song that I been singin’ forever,” was about the most tactful remark James made. However, there is reason to believe the icon, well known for having a fiery temperament, was not quite in full possession of her faculties when she said what she said the way she said it. You won’t find them at as many sites on the Internet as you will of Etta James picking on Beyoncé, but there are, if you look for them, references to Etta’s son Donto James acknowledging that his mother, as he told Reuters, had “been in a pretty big battle” with a debilitating disease. Continue Reading →

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