Etta James ©KLRU photo by Scott Newton

Etta James


Hot off the success of her 2004 release, Blues to the Bone, the multi-award winning Etta James continues to wow critics and fans with a music legacy that has spanned more than 50 years. The Chicago Tribune summed up the legend’s career when they wrote: “Pick any yardstick for measuring the success of a musical career — longevity, versatility, hits, comebacks — and regardless of which you choose, ageless R&B singer Etta James ranks among the greatest.”

James has been a success since she began singing the blues. Her first single, 1954’s “Roll with Me Henry,” shot to the top of the Billboard charts and she spent most of the ‘60s making what are now classic albums. Even during difficult personal times, James continued to make music, occasionally taking a more rock-based approach. The awards have been many for this living-legend.

In 2003 she was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award. She also has her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was honored by the W.C Handy Blues Foundation.

Her 2004 release, Blues to the Bone features covers of songs by John Lee Hooker, Robert Johnson and Howlin’ Wolf. The release, which was inspired by Martin Scorsese’s The Blues documentary on PBS, received a Grammy Award for Best Traditional Blues Album. James has a new CD scheduled for release later this year.

“You can’t fake this music,” she said. “You might be a great singer or a great musician but, in the end, that’s got nothing to do with it. It’s how you connect to the songs and to the history behind them. This is music that sharecroppers sang when they were out in the fields working. That’s a proud legacy and I’m proud to be a part of it.”