The legacy left by the famous R&B singer EttaJames will forever remain green in the minds of his fans. The level of recognition she has received over her sixty plus year career is rare and very few female R&B artists can lay claim to such fame. Jerry Wexler, the music producer, once called “the greatest of modern blues singers.”

Etta had one of the most powerful voices in R&B history and she recorded several albums with many popular hits during her lifetime. We can easily assume that the best of Etta James are her singles I’d Rather Go Blind, Well, all I could do was cry and Tell Mom. Although she faced many ups and downs in her life, she was still able to overcome her weaknesses and make a resounding success in her career.

Etta James – Biography, Childhood

Etta was called Jamesetta Hawkins and she was affectionately called Peaches. His date of birth is January 25, 1938, and his mother reportedly gave birth to him when he was 14, but the identity of his father was unknown. Although Etta had reason to believe that Rudolf Wanderone Jr was her biological father, Rudolf never confirmed this claim.

Young Etta reportedly had a troubled childhood and she was raised by relatives and friends instead of her biological mother. Etta then joined the Baptist Church choir while staying with her grandparents and became a soloist. She began to descend into juvenile delinquency when her adoptive mother died and ended up with her biological mother in San Francisco.

However, Etta’s love for music got the better of her from juvenile delinquency and together with some friends she formed the singing group Créolettes. Their songs caught the attention of the band’s famed leader, Johnny Otis, who arranged for their collaboration with Modern Records. They had some success as The Peaches but unfortunately they broke up after a while and Etta decided to go solo.

Career timeline

Etta’s solo career did not begin until 1960, when Leonard Chess signed her, she remained with Chess Records and also recorded for its subsidiary Argo and Checker until the late 1970s. successes then were my dear darlingall i could do was cry and believe in me. Her career began to expand when she began using drugs as a teenager, resurfacing in 1967 with producer, Rick Hall of Famer, Studio Muscle Shoals Alabama. The tunes “I’d Rather Be Blind” and “Tell Mama” would bring her back to the R&B charts. Due to her addiction, Etta James was in rehab in the early 1970s, but by 1973, with help from music producer Gabriel Mekler, his rock-focused album titled “Only A Fool” appeared. The famous star was eventually signed by Warner Bros and together with producer, Jerry Wexler, produced the album titled ‘Deep in the Night’.

The singer’s addiction to heroin soon resurfaced and she fell back into old habits, but in 1978 she got sober and was signed to Island Records. During her career there, Etta worked with music producer Barry Beckett to produce the album called ‘Seven Year Itch’. This time, she was determined to build a successful career. Etta attended several gigs and began recording regularly, including 1992’s ‘The Right Time’ and 1990’s ‘Stickin’ to My Guns’.

In 1994 she was already with the Private MusicEtta from 1995 to 2003 Etta released a total of eight albums for the label. Her autobiography titled “Rage to Survive” originated in 2003 and chronicles the life and experiences of Etta James. Her health began to decline in 2010 but in 2011 she dropped her latest album titled ‘The Dreamer’. Later that year, she was diagnosed with leukemia and died the following year, on January 20, 2012, at the age of 73.


Etta’s special musical genre – R&B, which bridges the gap between rock and roll, rhythm and blues has won her a plethora of awards. These include 17 Blues Music Awards and six Grammy Awards. Her induction into the Blues Hall of Fame dates back to 2001, then into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, and finally, induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999. Etta James ranked 22nd in the 100 Greatest singers of all time. by Rolling Stone Magazine who also ranked her #62 on their list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time.