James, Etta

James, Etta, 1938–2012, American singer, b. Los Angeles as Jamesetta Hawkins. She began singing in church and had her first hit record, “Roll with Me, Henry” (or “The Wallflower”), at 15. James, who had a unique and powerful voice, was mostly known as a rhythm-and-blues and soul singer, but she also was adept at pop ballads. Her most famous song is the perennial wedding favorite “At Last” (1961). Other hits include “Tell Mama,” “I'd Rather Go Blind,” and “All I Could Do Was Cry.”

See her autobiography, Rage to Survive (with D. Ritz, 1995, repr. 2003).

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