Etta James (January 25, 1938 - January 20, 2012) was a highly acclaimed soul-R&B singer who is famous for her smooth yet impassioned rendition of "At Last" (1961). Her many other hits also included "All I Could Do Was Cry" (1960), "Don't Cry Baby" (1961), "Trust In Me" (1961), "Pushover" (1963), and "Tell Mama" (1968).
Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, she began singing gospel music at age 5 at her church and on the radio. She was discovered at 14 by bandleader Johnny Otis who came up with "Etta James" as her stage name (by reversing the syllables in her first name). Otis produced her first hit, "The Wallflower," which topped the Billboard R&B charts in 1955. This song, which James co-wrote, was an answer song to Hank Ballard's chart-topping "Work with Me, Annie." (1954).
Etta James' career took off in 1960 when "All I Could Do Was Cry," "My Dearest Darling," and "If I Can't Have You" (with Harvey Fuqua) all became hits on both the Billboard R&B and Billboard Hot 100 charts. In 1961, she had a hit with the lushly orchestrated and romantic "At Last," a song dating back to 1942 when it became a pop hit for Glenn Miller. Over the years, "At Last" became Etta James' signature song and helped to establish her as a pop cultural icon. Her long string of hits continued through the late 1970s, and she continued recording and performing extensively to well into the 21th century.
Etta James was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and she was inducted into both the Blues Hall of Fame and the Rockabilly Hall of Fame in 2001. She also received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won many Grammys. In 2004, Rolling Stone Magazine ranked her at #62 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. She has been a key influence on many R&B singers over the years, and acclaimed producer Jerry Wexler named her "the greatest of all modern blues singers."
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- All I Could Do Was Cry 1960
- Don't Cry, Baby 1961
(This song later also became a hit for Aretha Franklin (1962).)
- My Dearest Darling 1960
- Something's Got A Hold On Me 1962
- Stop The Wedding 1962
- Tell Mama 1967
- Trust In Me 1961
(This song was previously a hit for Chris Connor (1957) and Patti Page (1959).)
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