Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ms. Etta James

I have been unwittingly going through an Etta James phase. A few months ago, I bought some of her music on Itunes and have done my best to work them into as many playlists I can, without being pedantic. Recently, I learned how to use my Itunes library to select a ringtone on my phone and naturally, I chose Etta's At Last. I appreciate a little cheekiness (isn't that a great word!) or wry humor in a ringtone, and this song makes the grade. This past Friday night, I finally watched Cadillac Records. I wouldn't say it was the best movie I ever saw, however, there were some really cool musical moments in the film and all of the performers are truly talented. I am now obsessed with Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Little Walter, Willie Dixon and, of course, Etta James.

I am completely curious about Etta - I hope she wouldn't mind my calling her that, but I feel like we have so much in common she just might forgive me. Okay, maybe not too much in common, but we are both "fatherless" and define "survivor" way more than one of those folks on some reality tv show. There are some questions that I would like to ask her. She is still alive, right?.

I was thinking today that maybe I should write Ms. James a letter and what I have so far is this:

Dear Ms. James;
To begin, I am a tremendous admirerer and believe that your voice, and your music, are critical components of the canon of vocal performers of the 20th century. Thank you for sharing your gift. I recently watched Beyonce portray you in Cadillac Records and wanted to know your feelings about her work. I remember, when the movie first came out, there was some scuttlebutt that you were unhappy with Beyonce's performance. If you were dissatisfied with her portrayal - could you share why? I'm interested to know about your life and wondered if you would recommend a biography which you feel accurately depicts your life. Do you really believe that the professional pool player, Minnesota Fats, is your biological father? Did that scene at the restaurant really happen in life? And, aside from all these questions, I would like to convey with all sincerity, my respect for your ability to be a survivor.

So - what do you think? Does anyone have her address handy?


  1. She, at the very least, oversaw this autobiography...

  2. Awesome, Rachel! Thank you.