The one and only Etta James. It is sad to think we have just only recently lost Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins) on January 20, 2012. She was born January 25, 1938 and she died five days before her birthday on which she would have been 74 years old. James was known as an American singer-songwriter. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, jazz, R&B, soul, rock and gospel. Whenever anyone thinks of the jazz classic “At Last” they think of Etta James. Etta’s version as compared to versions by other jazz singers, belonged to her.
James was married to her husband Artis Mills, whom she married in 1969. They had two sons, Donto and Sametto. Both started performing with their mother — Donto played drums at Montreux in 1993, and Sametto played bass guitar circa 2003 with his mom. Etta James battled with Heroin addiction for years and her husband Mr. Mills served a 10-year prison sentence for heroin possession.
From 1989, James received over 30 awards and recognitions from eight different organizations, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences which organizes the Grammys.
Now perhaps more trendy than ever Etta James is a “cult hero” with producers and remixers waiting in line to remix her legendary sound and style. We continue to hear her though samples in rap, hip hop, electronic and pop music of today. Her legacy lives on through blues and jazz singers in clubs worldwide honoring her sound. Here she is singing “At Last” as only she could. And the second video is of a young Etta James singing “Got A Hold On Me.”
At Last (live) [VIDEO] – Etta James
Somethings Got A Hold On Me (Live) [VIDEO] – Etta James
ESSENCE.com’s “New and Next” column spotlights the brightest new talents Essence thinks we should know.
New and Next recently featured jazz and soul singer and Harlem resident Azania. Born in Sierra Leone, West Africa but raised in Geneva, Switzerland, the classically-trained singer’s sound takes from her multi-cultural background—she calls it a “mix of 70s soul, some gospel and some jazz.”
Azania (pronounced Azanya) was born in Boston but grew up in Geneva, Switzerland, where her mother worked for the United Nations. She started singing professionally at the age of fourteen working with many different bands traveling Europe. She won the French TV competition, ‘Graines de Star,” an American Idol-style show, and was heralded as “the next Whitney Houston.” Later, Azania decided to make her way to the US two years ago. “The US is the ultimate challenge, and the biggest market. I love the spirit here.”
Azania is also very involved in All As One (allasone.org), a Sierra Leonean charity that is dedicated to providing the orphaned children of Sierra Leone a loving home, medical care, and schooling. AAO provides shelter, medical care, education, meals, clothes, social activities and love for the children. A dollar a day can literally save a child’s life.
Her advice for aspiring musicians is “No matter what your circumstances or problems are, instead of worrying about what’s wrong in your life and your challenges, focus your energy on what you do have, be deeply grateful for it and do the best you can with those things to move forward.”
Recording artist and producer Jeremiah Abiah who has worked with Azania’s says: “Azania has quickly garnered the kind of tenacity one needs to be successful here. Not only is she beautiful but she is a talented songstress aiming to make a difference.”
Below, watch her perform her single, “All of My Life.”
For those who don’t know, you need to know. For those who do know, you don’t need me telling you why Rachelle Ferrell is so respected and admired by all of our musical greats and in the jazz community. There is a reason Jennifer Hudson, Gladys Night, Stevie Wonder and the list goes on and on, can be found at one her live performances. With a little bit of Sarah Vaughan to a little bit of just about everything but the kitchen sink, this contemporary jazz artist creates, channels and delivers styles that nobody has even heard of yet. This is someone that was born to sing and perform music. We hear over and over about certain singers and hopeful talent rising up in the business who are tagged with the word unique. I’m encouraged to watch these new singers to develop and grow. Rachelle Ferrell on the other hand is the definition of the word “unique.”
But don’t take my word for it just listen to what “the voice” can do.
Here are two videos (live) below showing off her jaw dropping vocal abilities and her passionate commitment in how it is delivered.
Rachelle Ferrell – I Can Explain (live)
Rachelle Ferrell & Jennifer Hudson, Improvisational (live) moment on stage
Visit her great collection of music on iTunes.