Roll with me, Etta

Etta James, in 2006. One of the truly great American music-makers.

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.”

You can check out the details of her life at the wiki entry, or look at the NY Times obit. I liked the piece Neda Ulaby did for NPR.

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.

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