We’ll Miss You, Etta James

The great jazz and blues singer Etta James passed away today at the age of 73. My aunt has always enjoyed her music. And every once in a while, she’ll sing “At Last” around the house. I grew up with the song, but it was some years before I could fully appreciate Etta James as a singer. Her name often appears in crossword puzzles.  For all solvers out there, “Blues singer James” is not Rick, but Etta. Took me a while to learn that one…

Several years ago, my aunt bought a CD of Etta James’ Greatest Hits, and we listen to it a lot. The film Cadillac Records was a big draw for us because Etta James was portrayed in it. Beyonce did a wonderful job as Etta James–and in producing the picture.

My aunt and I also read Etta James’ 1995 autobiography a couple of years ago. That lady really had a hard life, but she was eventually able to deal with her substance abuse and other problems. She was a survivor. But in the end, leukemia took her away.

Just like I regret never being able to see Rosemary Clooney at The Rainbow Room (although I always had a knack for finding profiles about her in magazines, TV, and the radio), my aunt and I also never got to see Etta James perform locally. We tried twice for tickets at the Birchmere, but each time, she had to cancel. Another time, we didn’t even realize she was appearing there one night, and so missed that opportunity, too. The review in the paper was nice. My aunt reminded me that at least we have her music.

So, here is how I imagine her in concert. I wish we could have been there. I’m not sure what date this was, or where it was….


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