She was known as the Matriarch of R&B, and for good reason. Etta James’ earthy voice and spitfire personality made her one of the most loved blues singers of her generation.
The legendary performer passed away last week, aged 73, after a two year battle with leukaemia. This was not the only war she had fought – The civil rights movement, the burgeoning of feminism and a heroin addiction all played their part in what was a vibrant yet challenging career.
Her 1961 hit At Last encompassed the raw, joyous yet melancholy feeling of the time, and made it not only one of the anthems of the time, but a timeless tribute to the power of wanting. Listen to Paste Magazine’s choice of her ten best tracks here. This balance between toughness and vulnerability made this song one of her greatest hits, and Etta herself an icon.
She will be missed.