Sadly, it often takes someone’s death before their genius and talent can be fully appreciated. A lot of this obviously has to do with all the retrospection that takes place on such occasions, and, in the case of famous musicians, the reflex action of pulling out their greatest hits for the inevitable bittersweet musical journey down memory lane. Looking back in the rear view mirror at the career of Etta James through the outpouring of tributes in the media has revealed in vivid detail the undeniable majesty of the woman and her signal contribution to American music. I have listed below a few of the remembrances I have seen since the announcement of her death yesterday. They each remind us how much joy and pleasure she gave us during her tumultuous career.
Richard Williams at The Guardian provides a list of ten of his personal favorites: Etta James: 10 classic performances | Music | guardian.co.uk.
Ben Greenman over at the New Yorker offers a similar compilation of James’ hits and a brief recap of her life and struggles.
1997 Rolling Stone “Women of Rock” interview with Etta James by Katherine Dieckman.
See also Peter Keepnews on Etta James in the NYT.