Born as Jamesetta Hawkins January 20, 1938 in Los Angeles, California music legend Etta James came into this world. Etta’s mother Dorothy Hawkins was only 14 at the time she had Etta which was a factor of the young girl being moved around to foster homes multiple times. She never knew her dad and when vocal coach James Earl Hines took her in to sing at the church and teach her, he would sometimes get Etta out of bed and beat her to force her to sing for people. This is looked at to be the reason Etta never liked singing on demand. Etta moved to San Francisco where she created her first musical group named The Creolettes at the age of 14. Multitalented Johnny Otis found the girls one day singing at a nightclub and took the girls under his wing. Otis changed the Creolettes name to The Peaches, signed them to Modern Records, and changed Etta’s stage name from her birth name Jamesetta Hawkins to Etta James. Etta was a very spunky girl with an enormous attitude. When Georgina Gibbs covered James’ single “Dance with me, Henry” and it reached number one on the Billboard Hot 100 Etta was very angered. A similar incident happened when Beyonce Knowles, who portrayed Etta James in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records, performed James’ single “At Last” at the 2009 presidential inauguration ball. Etta expressed her distaste and anger at this at a Seattle concert.
After James’ time with Modern Records ended in 1960 she then signed onto the Chess label Argo where she recorded her debut album At Last! Where her signature hit “At Last” was featured on. An interesting thing about her most popular song “At Last” that few people are aware of is that it was actually not her most rewarded piece of work. Etta James faced many obstacles throughout her life from being a foster child, facing a heroin addiction, and sadly suffering from Alzheimer’s and leukemia which eventually led to her death on January 20, 2012. Etta’s heroin...