Skip to main content

Godspeed and God Bless, Etta James

To say that Etta James was an icon is an understatement. Having grown up with an Etta James superfan as was my mother SWIE ("She Who Is Exalted"), I think of Etta James as the soundtrack to my mother's life.

My mother's young womanhood was cut short at the age of 19 with her marriage to my dad and the birth of my oldest sister shortly thereafter. Her dancing and drinking days were mostly confined to the walls of her household after she married. And a lot of that dancing happened to the music of Etta James.

If Sam Cooke, Luther Vandross, and Teddy Pendergrass were my mother's top musical boyfriends, Etta James, Dinah Washington, and Aretha Franklin were her musical best girlfriends. I grew up watching my mom bop and stroll to "Tell Mama," and take long drags of her cigarette and hang her head to "All I Could Do Was Cry," as if what happened in that song was happening to her. I sometimes wondered whether my mother had actually loved someone else instead of my dad just by the way she responded to that song. At the height of her career, Etta sang like she was going through some things, and she was - drug addiction. My mother was going through some things, too, at the same time -- too many kids and too many miscarriages in too little time (six kids, three miscarriages, ten years), not enough money to feed all her kids all the time, and an abusive husband. It was like they commiserated as fellow love martyrs even though they didn't know each other. Etta sang the way my mother felt, and my mother felt what Etta was singing. I'm sure that if they'd known each other, they would have gotten along famously and swapped life stories, with their "tell it like it is" personalities.

As a child, I dismissed Etta James' music as "old folks' music." As an adult, I re-discovered her, along with Dinah Washington, and realized that many of the singers I liked copied much from them. What I loved most about Etta was she was living proof that a deep-throated raspy alto could deliver a song with haunting emotion, beauty and femininity with the best of them, because she was among the best of them.

Godspeed and God bless you, Etta, for seeing my mom through some tough times with your music.


Popular posts from this blog

When You Leave The Ghetto, Don't Bring It With You

NBA player Gilbert Arenas brings a gun to an NBA locker room. NBA player Ron Artest lets his pit bulls run wild and free in Loomis, California while playing for the Sacramento Kings. NFL player Michael Vick did time for fighting dogs. And NFL player Plaxico Burress is doing time for shooting his damn self.

What do all these men have in common? BMNB would say an inability to make a profound paradigm shift. I’m less eloquent than BMNB is, so I’ll say it differently: The inability to leave the ghetto behind.

Yes, call me saditty, bourgie, elitist, stuck-up, whatever. I don’t care. Until you’ve had a tweaker ruin your Thanksgiving turkey, you don’t even know (more on that later), and I’m not trying to hear you.

Living in Western Placer County, my husband and I continue to hear stories from folks like us who had to flee “those who can’t leave the ghetto behind.” You know these people, and they come in all races. In our case, we had returned to Sacramento in 2004 and 2005, respective…

Hillary Clinton Can Stop Trump -- If She Releases Her Electors

Hillary Clinton isn't going to be President of the United States.  At least not yet.  And not in 2017.

But she can possibly stop Donald Trump from being President by releasing her pledged electors  in the Electoral College to vote for a compromise Republican candidate.

This is part of the strategy of the Hamilton Electors, members of the Electoral College who see that Donald Trump is not qualified to be President.  They argue that the Electoral College's role is not to rubber-stamp the popular vote -- which, in this case, would belong to Clinton -- but to serve as a check on the popular vote to make sure that no one who is unfit assumes the office of President.

According to the Hamilton Electors, named for Founding Father Alexander Hamilton (Yes, he of the very popular musical for which I can't get tickets) Hamilton stated that the Electoral College's test for fitness to be the President was as follows (and I'm quoting):

Election of a Qualified Person: As Hamilton s…

Malia's Hair is Off Limits! So is Sasha's!

I read a snippet of a New York Times article in which there was criticism of the hairstyle Malia Obama wore to Italy. Twists, to be precise. Said twists were criticized as not befitting someone representing the United States abroad.

Hold up. Slow your roll, America. You don't get a say in this. Neither Malia nor Sasha "chose" to represent the United States in any way, shape, or form. And their hair, and how they wear it, is off limits. Back the eff off.

I was hotter than a hornet reading this. The whole black woman's hair thing? That's personal with me. We black women have more than enough issues and neuroses about our hair and how we wear it. It is not open to debate within wider circles, especially when there's a child involved. The choices we have, other than wearing our hair in its natural state in twists, dreads, braids, cornrows or afros, are painful -- chemical relaxers, also called "creamy crack," and searing hot straightening combs. If Malia …