“Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” 1962

Three weeks ago, January 20th 2012, the country lost one of its great musical talents, singer Etta James. Widely admired as a star of Rhythm & Blues and Rock & Roll, Etta’s rollercoaster career spanned the genres of Blues, Soul, Gospel and Jazz. With her death, the 15-time Grammy-nominated singer leaves an indelible mark American music.

Born Jamesetta Hawkins in 1938 to a black mother and an allegedly white father, James started her professional career at age 14. She had her first hit in 1955 with the single “Dance With Me, Henry,” before embarking on a tour with Rock & Roll star Little Richard. As a newly signed singer for Chess Records, 1960 marked the release of James’s first album At Last! Incorporating jazz, blues, and doo-wop, the album includes such classics as “At Last” and “A Sunday Kind of Love.”

By the ‘70’s troubles for James began to arise, in the form of heroin addiction, a streak of crime, and minor stints in jails and rehabilitation programs. In 1989 though, James began a resurgence with her album Seven Year Itch. By the ‘90’s she had become an inductee of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Blues Hall of Fame, and the Grammy Hall of Fame.

-Post by Jesse Friedman, Tulane University Student