Nothing like viral internet news posting for a single announcement to become widespread knowledge in under two minutes of letting the cat out of the bag.
Short and just bitter, rather than bittersweet; that’s what I think of when I stop to process just how much time transpired between when Etta James’s not long ago announcement of being terminally ill was released to the public by her doctor and this afternoon’s break in the world of soul, announcing Ms. James has died. She was 73.
A Los Angeles, California native, Ms. James (originally Jamesetta Hawkins) is held in high regard across the music industry – particularly by her musical brethren in soul – and will most likely be held in lasting esteem; something granted to those who have made an impact on the music world significant enough to inspire thoughts of ‘classic nostalgia’ across multiple generations.
A soul, blues, and jazz singer (among many other connected genres,) James was certainly somewhat of a “Jill of all Trades” (though I’d give her way more credit than to generically categorize her as simply competent and not masterful in many areas.) Her recording career/discography alone, spanned more than 25 studio albums and almost 60 singles -her two most impressive numbers, in addition to other releases. The loss of her forever unique and powerful voice at the hands of leukemia is a tragic, unfair loss but the gift of her music will stay in the hearts and minds of all the people she ever worked with and all the people whose ears ever came to know the songs she sang.
Rest in peace Etta James. You were a pioneer in soul, with a creative spirit like no other. Singing with your heart to almost the very end, the musical world was lucky to have you. (1938-2012)
…Something a bit more cheerful to end this somber post – another song powerful in launching her career alongside “At Last.”
Etta James – Tell Mama
P.S. It’s important to remember, that in the midst of every sad moment, there can be a conversely happy one occurring somewhere else in the world. I’m dedicating this post not only to Etta James but to many wishes for a happy birthday for my friend, musical colleague and avid Etta James fan, Amanda Broadway.