Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer from California. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, rhythm and blues, rock and roll, soul, gospel and jazz. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as "Roll With Me, Henry", "At Last", "Tell Mama", "Something's Got a Hold on Me", and "I'd Rather Go Blind" for which she wrote the lyrics. She faced a number of personal problems, including drug addiction, before making a musical resurgence in the late 1980s with the album The Seven Year Itch.
James is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.
From 1989, James received over 30 awards and recognitions from eight different organizations, including the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences which organizes the Grammys.
In 1989, the newly formed Rhythm and Blues Foundation included James in their first Pioneer Awards for artists whose "lifelong contributions have been instrumental in the development of Rhythm & Blues music". The following year, 1990, she received an NAACP Image Award, which is given for "outstanding achievements and performances of people of color in the arts"; an award she cherished as it "was coming from my own people".
The Grammy Awards are awarded annually by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences. James has received six Grammy Awards. Her first was in 1994, when she was awarded Best Jazz Vocal Performance for the album Mystery Lady, which consisted of covers of Billie Holiday songs. Two other albums have also won awards, Let's Roll (Best Contemporary Blues Album) in 2003, and Blues to the Bone (Best Traditional Blues Album) in 2004. Two of her early songs have been given Grammy Hall of Fame Awards for "qualitative or historical significance": "At Last", in 1999, and "The Wallflower (Dance with Me, Henry)" in 2008. In 2003, she was given the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.
The members of the Blues Foundation, a non-profit organization set up in Memphis, Tennessee, to foster the blues and its heritage, have nominated James for a Blues Music Award nearly every year since its founding in 1980; and she has received some form of Blues Female Artist of the Year award 14 times since 1989, continuously from 1999 to 2007. In addition, the albums Life, Love, & The Blues (1999), Burnin' Down The House (2003), and Let's Roll (2004) were awarded Soul/Blues Album of the Year, and in 2001 she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame.
In the 1970’s, due to drug addiction (heroin), James was arrested on more than one occasion, and spent time in rehabilitation centers. In 1988 she received treatment at the Betty Ford Center in California. In 2008, James was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, and in 2010 she received treatment for an addiction to painkillers.