I discovered Etta about 14 years ago. Oh, she’d been around much longer, but I stumbled across her on Oprah’s marathon training DVD, which I can’t remember the name of and apparently has dropped off of Google. Etta was singing I Got the Power in the background and I had to have that song. So I bought a CD of hers.
I was a goner. I bought 4 more in rapid succession. I didn’t know she’d sung the immensely successful At Last, for which most of the world knows her. I was deeply attracted to her sexy but mournful blues style (Almost Persuaded, All I Could Do Was Cry) and the feisty R&B stuff (Tell Mama, Pushover) she had produced.
The thing about Etta was and still is that every song she sang dug into my soul as a woman. I felt she was singing for me because I couldn’t. When I listened to Trust in Me I knew that this is what I had always wanted to say to my husband who had recently passed away. When she sang about some guy thinking she was going to be easy in Pushover, I remembered the days when that was a battle we women were up against – not so much nowadays.
But the song that broke my heart and always will is I’d Rather Go Blind, in which she literally wails that she would rather lose her sight than see her man with somebody else. Now that’s the heartbreak of love if ever it was expressed.
Etta had a great voice but her talent was so much more than that. She imbued every song with feeling as real as feeling it yourself.
I’m going to miss knowing Etta’s in the world.