Etta James was born on this day in 1938

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ETTA (EH-tuh)

  1. American R&B and gospel singer

  2. Comic strip by Paul Robinson

Common clues: Singer James; Blues singer James; “At Last” singer James; Miss Kett; Kett of the comics

Crossword puzzle frequency: 3 times a year

Video: At Last – Etta James

Etta James (born January 25, 1938) is an American R&B and gospel singer.

Etta James in 1990

Born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles, California, she received her first professional vocal training at the age of 5, from James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir at St. Paul Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Her family moved to San Francisco, California in 1950, and in 1952 the trio (the Creolettes) she had formed with two of her friends came to the attention of Johnny Otis. Otis reversed the syllables of her first name to give her her stage name and began recording her. Her first record, and her first R & B hit, was her own composition, "The Wallflower", an answer song to Hank Ballard's "Work with Me, Annie." She recorded it in 1954 with the Otis band and Richard Berry, who sang the second vocal. The song was later a hit in the white market for Georgia Gibbs, re-written as "Dance with Me, Henry." She briefly recorded as Etta James & the Peaches, releasing several hits before signing to Chess Records in 1960.

James released several duets with Harvey Fuqua (of The Moonglows) that became major R&B hits, as well as her classic "At Last." However, her mainstream success was limited. In 1967, James recorded "Tell Mama" and "I'd Rather Go Blind", with "At Last" perhaps her most enduring songs, in Muscle Shoals. Her singing is characterized by accomplished vocal technique and strong jazz influences. She won the Grammy for best jazz vocal in 1994 for her CD Mystery Lady, a collection of songs associated with Billie Holliday, and in 2004 won the Grammy for best contemporary blues album with Let's Roll. In 2003 she received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. To a younger generation, Etta is known for the Muddy Waters song "I Just Wanna Make Love To You", used in television commercials for Coca-Cola and for John Smith's bitter. The Rolling Stones, Chuck Berry and Foghat have also recorded the song.

Drug-related and romantic problems interfered with her career, but James managed to maintain a career throughout the latter half of the 20th century and was inducted into both the Rock and Roll and Blues Halls of Fame.

In 2003 she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Etta Kett was a long-run comic strip created by Paul Robinson and distributed by King Features Syndicate. Launched as a single panel during December 1925, it originally offered tips to teenagers on manners, etiquette and the social graces.

Robinson, however, saw the story potential, and he soon expanded his characters into a daily strip and Sunday page about teenager Etta Kett, her family and friends in a suburban setting. As Peter Kylling observed, Robinson borrowed from his earlier strip, The Love-Byrds:

The series premiered in the early 1920s. Stopped in 1925. Apparently just another series about a married couple living in the suburbs, but there are differences taking the time and age in consideration: Howard Byrd helps with the daily chores, and Peggy Byrd works in an office along with Howard. Furthermore, Howard likes his parents-in-law(!) and he joins the army only to be kicked out because of poor eyesight. The father character in Robinson's next comic book series, Etta Kett, is clearly modelled after Howard, and the series as a whole may be seen as a continuation of The Love-Byrds, except that the Ketts have a daughter who is in focus. She, on the other hand, bears resemblance to Peggy Byrd!

The brunette Etta and her boyfriend Wingey Wallace experienced an endless round of activities and events, such as soda fountain sessions at the Sugar Shack (where Wingey worked), rooting for the home team at the football field, arranging dates, pulling pranks and heading off for the rodeo. Comics historian Andy Madura commented, "Beginning in late 1925, Etta Kett was another of the flapper strips stemming from the 1920s. Like those that survived the era, Etta Kett had to metamorphosize away from the frivolous flapper mentality to attract Great Depression and beyond readers. For Etta Kett this was largely accomplished by putting Etta into a more college-like setting and making her the proper opposite to her somewhat wolfish boyfriends."

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Etta James" and “Etta Kett”.