Etta James’ voice was like no other. With her blend of R&B and soul, her sound was all-powerful all the time, delivering every line with a fiery passion that seemed limitless within her. It is a voice that has gone down in history and none have been able to touch its sheer strength and intensity.
Listeners can hear that in her songs, but it’s nothing compared to witnessing it live. Here are 5 spellbinding live moments in honor of Etta James, who passed away on Jan. 20, 2012.
1. “Something’s Got A Hold On Me”
From the beginning of this performance of “Something’s Got a Hold on Me,” James is a force, belting out the lyrics with gritty vocal runs in between, teasing the chorus in front of an audience eager to be wrapped up in the hit.
2. Medley (Live 1977)
This medley of ballads, “At Last,” “Trust In Me,” and “A Sunday Kind Of Love,” finds the star giving everything she’s got to the stage. Even dripping with sweat, James is unfazed, performing like it’s the last time she will ever sing. It’s impossible not to get enraptured by her fiery voice and her commanding presence.
3. “I’d Rather Go Blind” (Live with Dr. John, 1987)
Live on BB King & Friends, James gives a moving performance of “I’d Rather Go Blind” and then Dr. John joins in on vocals. It’s all over from there. The below performance sees the two give an emotionally-charged, call-and-response performance, fighting for their relationship on stage.
4. “Ain’t Nobody’s Business” (Live on BB King & Friends)
In another performance from BB King & Friends, James delivers alongside fellow vocal legends, Gladys Knight and Chaka Khan. Performing “Ain’t Nobody’s Business,” the three sing separate, but complimentary, parts for a powerful rendition from all sides.
5. “At Last” (Live at the 1993 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Induction)
At the 1993 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony, James performed her iconic, slow-grooving hit, “At Last.” She delivers a striking performance, putting power behind each word, knowing the perfect push and pull with the song, and captivating a crowd that is hanging onto every line.
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