Donna Summer, Etta James and Whitney Houston are arguably three of the biggest names the music industry lost in 2012. That’s just the tip of the iceberg as they say. I had no idea just how many artists passed away this year until I saw this video posted by the New York Times. Their four-minute long clip titled “The Music They Made” perfectly captures the enormity of talent lost.
Included in the clip are Adam Yauch of the Beastie Boys, Norah Jones’ dad sitar player Ravi Shankar, Davy Jones of the Monkees and Fleetwood Mac member Bob Welch to name a few. There are plenty more talented individuals featured in the clip. Check out the video montage below to hear some of the music these legends made throughout their career.
I was truly saddened by the passing of Etta James. If you are unfamiliar with Ms James, and her work, I will save you a quick Google: Etta James was an American singing legend who won six Grammy Awards. Rolling Stone magazine ranks James # 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and # 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists of all time. She has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and is known for recording the definitive versions of “I Just Wanna Make Love to You” and “At Last”. She is to song what Judy Dench is to acting.
She always fascinated me. For starters, there was that voice: One of the greatest instruments ever found in nature. Completely recognizable and beautifully complex, she could sound like a sweet innocent young girl or a dirty old man, and all in the same song. Sometimes the raw sexuality of her sound was quite frankly flabbergasting. Her recordings, surrounded always by the world’s finest musicians, are a sheer master class of Blues, R & B and Rock and Roll treasures.
For most of her life, Etta James was obese (this is something I can identify with). Yet, no matter her size, her live performances were always a fully realized energetic exhibition of unapologetic sexuality. She writhed on stage, gyrated her considerable posterior and let there be not one bit of confusion as to what the lyrics “I Want a little Sugar in my Bowl” meant to her. Whilst performing the line “Asked my baby for a nickel” form “Sweet Little Angel” on national TV, Etta famously lifted up her then enormous right breast and gave it a mighty shake for the entire audience and in the direction of then sitting U.S. President Bill Clinton.
Like so many brilliant artists, Etta had her demeans. I’ll leave that for you all to research if you choose as it matters little, at least to me, with regard to her legacy.
Yesterday marked one week since the legendary Etta James passed away. Yesterday, family and friends gathered to pay tribute to her at her televised funeral. With such an incredible voice paving the way for an amazing career, Etta inspired many. Someone who was definitely inspired by her was Christian Aguilera. With such a powerful and soulful voice, you know that when she was a little girl, she was singing some Etta James in her bedroom.
On a list of songs that melt my heart, “At Last” is definitely one of them. Christina Aguilera took to the mic at the funeral to sing the infamous song, literally singing her heart out for her. Although she has a stellar voice to begin with, you could really feel the passion behind her voice as she sang the tribute to Etta, whose casket was only a matter of feet away.
Before commencing the song, Aguilera said, “She was the one that cut right through my soul. So tonight, Etta, this song is for you.” Watch the touching performance below.
So sad. Legendary singer, Etta James has passed away at the age of 73 after a long struggle with leukemia. Her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon, confirmed the news to CNN: “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world. She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always.”
She was known for her incredible voice, and of course one of her hits, “At Last”. Bonnie Raitt once told Rolling Stone, “There’s a lot going on in Etta James’s voice. A lot of pain, a lot of life but, most of all, a lot of strength. She can be so raucous and down one song, and then break your heart with her subtlety and finesse the next. As raw as Etta is, there’s a great intelligence and wisdom in her singing.” So true. In memory of James, watch her performing “At Last” below.
According to the Associated Press, singer Etta James is terminally ill. Over the past few years, she’s faced many health problems, but now sadly it looks as though the end is near for the 73-year old.
The “At Last” singer’s chronic leukemia was declared incurable two weeks ago. Her livin-in doctor, Dr. Elaine James (no relation to the singer) told The Press Enterprise the sad news. In addition to the leukemia, James has been suffering from dementia and kidney failure. I first learned of this sad news this weekend when talking to Vancouver’s most famed Drag Queen (and one of my favorites), Joan E. at a Christmas party this weekend.
You may remember that Beyonce sang Etta James’ “At Last” (one of my favorite “old” songs) at the inauguration of Barack Obama. What you may not know is that when Etta James performed at a concert in Seattle, she told people how she really felt about Beyonce singing her song: “The great Beyoncé. Like I said, she ain’t mine. … I can’t stand Beyoncé. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol’ president day, gonna be singing my song that I’ve been singing forever.”
Watch James performing her song (as well as Beyonce’s performance) below.
In an earlier post, I ragged on “Burlesque” being the next “Glitter” and based on the just-released clip from the movie, I’m not too far off-based with my prediction. Not knocking on Aguilera’s vocal talents, because they’re as spectacular as always, but Burlesque is shaping up to be, one huge extended music video.
With all of X-Tina’s hair tossing and shimmying, complemented by soft artistic mood lighting, you can’t help but think the producers are trying their hardest to divert audiences from Aguilera’s acting to her undeniable vocal prowess. Just take a peak at Aguilera’s cover of an Etta James classic and judge for yourself.
It’s hard to deny that Christina’s voice is fantastically bombastic on the track. It soars and shines in places, many of her female compatriots can’t vocally reach if their life depended on it. Perhaps the “Genie in a Bottle” singer should’ve played Etta James in “Cadillac Records” instead of Beyonce. God knows, James wasn’t crazy about Queen B playing her in the movie.