Monday, November 16, 2015

The Legacy of Etta James: The Sassy Songbird of Jazz

Everyone knows her for her signature hit, “At last.” With her passionate vocals and sweeping orchestration, her rendition stood the test of time to the point where many listeners thought that she wrote it. For the record, At Last is not an Etta James original. It is a song written in the 1940s for the musical film, “Orchestra Wives.”

Although her name would be forever linked to the song, there is actually more to Etta James than what her listeners pigeonhole her for. Try digging a little deeper and you will see a lively, bold, and full spirited singer.

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 Using her whole heart, Etta sang with such depth. You could feel her pain, her joy, her sorrow and her hope. With a single tune and phrase, she could stop your heart with every rhythm and note that comes from within her soul.

In a musical era when women were expected to be cool, pretty and nice, she was fearless and would always make you wonder how she channels that vast well of emotion. To see and experience what I am talking about, visit YouTube and watch her string of bluesy and jazzy hits like “All I Could Do Was Cry,” “Trust In Me” and “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.”

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 The thing, however, that makes her truly special is her persona as a singer. She never hides the meanings of songs. Music styles may have changed, but Etta has stuck to her hard-charging approach throughout her career.

Hey there! Chrisopher J. Keehner here, a Philadelphia businessman with a passion for sports and Jazz. I share more articles on jazz and sports here.