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Etta James

Etta James

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Also Known As: Jamesetta Hawkins Died: January 20, 2012
Born: January 25, 1938 Cause of Death: Leukemia
Birth Place: Los Angeles, California, USA Profession:

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

With a music career that spanned more than 50 years, Etta James endured many obstacles throughout her life, from growing up in a single parent household to numerous run-ins with the law, as well as a decades-long battle with drug addiction. Yet the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was always remembered for her 1961 song "At Last." The smoldering ballad put James on the map, not only as a torch singer capable of crossing over musical styles - whether it was rhythm & blues, pop, Gospel, or jazz - but it also turned her into an artist whose influence in the music industry transcended any genre. Often credited for bridging the gap between R&B and rock and roll, James' sheer talent, remarkable will to survive, and her definitive song were all testaments to her lasting legacy as one of her era's most revered vocalists.

With a music career that spanned more than 50 years, Etta James endured many obstacles throughout her life, from growing up in a single parent household to numerous run-ins with the law, as well as a decades-long battle with drug addiction. Yet the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer was always remembered for her 1961 song "At Last." The smoldering ballad put James on the map, not only as a torch singer capable of crossing over musical styles - whether it was rhythm & blues, pop, Gospel, or jazz - but it also turned her into an artist whose influence in the music industry transcended any genre. Often credited for bridging the gap between R&B and rock and roll, James' sheer talent, remarkable will to survive, and her definitive song were all testaments to her lasting legacy as one of her era's most revered vocalists.

Milestones close milestones

1943:
Was a gospel music prodigy by the age of five
1950:
Family moved to San Francisco, CA
1954:
Formed a doo-wop singing group with two female friends called The Peaches and auditioned for famed bandleader Johnny Otis; joined Otis on a trip to Los Angeles to record the track "The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry)" under the Modern Records label
1955:
Released debut single by The Peaches, "The Wallflower"; song topped the Billboard R&B charts, but was later eclipsed by a mainstream version of the track recorded by white singer Georgia Gibbs
1959:
Moved to Chicago and began recording for Argo, an imprint of Chess Records
1960:
After The Peaches disbanded, signed a contract with Chess Records as a solo artist
1960:
Released first major solo hit, "All I Could Do Is Cry"
1961:
Released debut album <i>At Last!</i>, a collection of her previously released tracks as well as cover versions of standards; album featured signature track "At Last," which landed at No. 2 on the R&B charts and reached No. 47 on the <i>Billboard</i> Hot 100
1962:
Recorded the Gospel-inspired "Something¿s Got a Hold on Me"
1964:
Released the bluesy-pop single "Baby What You Want Me to Do"
1972:
Career slowed down due to battling drug addiction; released minor hits in the 1970s, including "I Found Love"
1978:
Feature film debut, "Sgt. Pepper¿s Lonely Hearts Club Band"; film starred Peter Frampton and The Bee Gees
1978:
Opened tour dates in the U.S. for The Rolling Stones and also played at the Montreal Jazz Festival
1989:
Made her comeback with the album <i>Seven Year Itch</i>, released by Island Records
1989:
Played a blues singer in the drama feature "Tap"
1993:
Released the tribute album dedicated to one of her musical heroes <i>Mystery Lady: The Songs of Billie Holiday</i>
1993:
Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
1994:
Won her first Grammy Award, for Best Jazz Vocal Performance for "Mystery Lady."
1995:
Co-authored her memoir <i>Rage to Survive</i> with David Ritz
2003:
Received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award
2003:
Honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
2008:
Portrayed by Beyoncé Knowles in the film "Cadillac Records"
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