Saturday, January 21, 2012

ETTA JAMES 01/25/1938-01/20/2012

Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer whose style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in the mid 1950s, she gained fame with hits such as "Dance With Me, Henry", "At Last", "Tell Mama", and "I'd Rather Go Blind" for which she claimed she wrote the lyrics.She faced a number of personal problems, including drug addiction, before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album The Seven Year Itch.

She is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was 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. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.

James was hospitalized in January 2010 to treat an infection caused by MRSA, a bacterium that is resistant to antibiotic treatment. During her hospitalization, her son Donto revealed that James had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's disease in 2008, and attributed her previous comments about Beyoncé Knowles to "drug induced dementia".

In 2008, James was portrayed by Beyoncé Knowles in the film, Cadillac Records, loosely based on the rise and fall of James' label of 18 years, Chess Records, and how label founder and producer Leonard Chess helped the career of James and other label mates, though it was noted that James was successful prior to her signing with Chess Records.In the film, Etta James' character is in constant search to seek the recognition as well as love from an infamous pool shark named Minnesota Fats, whom she believed to be her white biological father. The film also portrayed "At Last" as a huge pop hit, but the single only charted briefly when it was initially released and James had bigger hits. It also indicated that James and Chess, who were 21 years apart in age, were lovers but that was also inaccurate. Though James and Knowles were later seen at a red carpet event following the film's release embracing each other, James expressed her displeasure with Knowles at a Seattle concert in January 2009, a few days after Knowles sang her song, "At Last", at the first inaugural ball for Barack Obama. James claimed she "can't stand Beyoncé" and that Knowles would "get her ass whipped". James later said that her remarks about Knowles were a joke but admitted she was hurt that she was not invited to sing her song and that she could've performed it better.

She was diagnosed with leukemia in early 2011. The illness was announced as terminal by Dr. Elaine James (no relation) in December 2011, in a plea for prayers from fans. On January 20, 2012, longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon, stated that James had died with her husband and sons by her side at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, California.

1995 Mystery Lady - Songs of Billie Holiday Best Jazz Vocal Performance
1999 "At Last" Grammy Hall of Fame Award
2003 Etta James Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
2004 Let's Roll Best Contemporary Blues Album
2005 Let's Roll Best Traditional Blues Album

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