RIP: Etta James

The writing on the wall had been apparent for sometime now regarding singer Etta James, who passed away from complications with leukemia on Friday. She was 73.

The powerhouse singer, known as “Miss Peaches,” lived an eventful life. She first hit the charts as a teenager, taking “The Wallflower (Roll With Me, Henry)” — an “answer record” to Hank Ballard’s “Work With Me, Annie” — to No. 1 on the R&B charts in 1955. She joined Chess Records in 1960 and had a string of R&B and pop hits, many with lush string arrangements. After a mid-decade fade, she re-emerged in 1967 with a more hard-edged, soulful sound.

Throughout her career, James overcame a heroin addiction, opened for the Rolling Stones, won six Grammys and was voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Despite her ups and downs — including a number of health problems — she maintained an optimistic attitude.

“Most of the songs I sing, they have that blue feeling to it. They have that sorry feeling. And I don’t know what I’m sorry about,” she told CNN’s Denise Quan in 2002. “I don’t!”

Through it all, she was a spitfire beloved by contemporaries and young up-and-comers.

She was already pretty sick in the video above from 2009, but man oh man, when she opens her voice and that throaty, sexy, and soulful sounds bellows out of her … goosebumps. There was hardly a voice like hers in music history.

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