The first Etta James song I remember hearing was “Tell Mama”, on Soul Jazz’s marvellous “Chicago Soul” compilation. I remember being dumbstruck by the force of her voice; how she could somehow combine being angry, pleading, triumphant, playful, lustful, and yearning, all within the space of a single song. Or sometimes even a single line of a song. Frankly, I was hooked. Etta James songs have featured on whatever iWhatsit device I’ve had in the past ten years, waiting for that moment to get transported to a whole new world. To me, she was the best soul singer out there; no-one had such emotion in their voice, no-one could be quite so goddamn, well, soulful.
She will be sadly missed, but her voice will live for ever.