Friday, March 02, 2007

Etta James

Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins January 25, 1938 in Los Angeles, California) is an American Blues, R&B and Gospel singer. In the 1950s and 60s, she had her biggest success as a Blues and R&B singer. She is best-known for her 1961 ballad "At Last", which has been classified as a "timeless classic" and has been featured in many movies and television commercials since its release.

Few R&B singers have endured tragic travails on the monumental level of Etta James and remain to tell the tale. [1]

Etta James was born to an unmarried 16-year-old African American mother. She claimed that her mother told her that her father was Rudolph "Minnesota Fats" Wanderone, and that they received financial support from him on the condition that they keep his paternity a secret. She received her first professional vocal training at the age of five, from James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir at St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles.

James's family moved to San Francisco in 1950 and James soon teamed up with two other girls to form a singing group. When the girls were fourteen, bandleader Johnny Otis had them audition: they sang an answer to Hank Ballard's "Work With Me, Annie" called "Roll With Me Henry." Otis particularly liked the song, and against her mother's wishes, James and the trio went to Los Angeles to record the song in 1954. The song was recorded under the label Modern Records. By this time, the trio renamed the song "The Wallflower (Dance with Me, Henry)". James also named her vocal group The Peaches. "The Wallflower (Dance with Me, Henry)" was released in 1955.