She was 15 when she recorded her first record–and first hit: “Roll With Me Henry”–in 1954. She sang for us for 58 of her 73 years. Reading the message that Etta James had died, I pulled in a gulp of air and breathed out, “Oh no.”
I loved her voice–from the early material like “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” to the incredible cd of a few years ago, “Blues to the Bone.” Why did I love her voice–why do I love any voice? Voices that make me gasp, “oh no” or “oh yes,” tell the truth, cut through the trappings to a kind of honesty that anyone can hear regardless of the genre.
I’ll be paying tribute to this great American artist on the Blue Note this Tuesday, January 24 at 3 pm.
I already miss you Etta.