My mother always told me, even if a song has been done a thousand times, you can still bring something of your own to it. I'd like to think I did that.— Etta James
The most cheerful Etta James quotes that are little-known but priceless
Long as I was riding in a big Cadillac and dressed nice and had plenty of food, that's all I cared about.
The two things you can't fake are good food and good music
What happens is, when I perform, I'm somewhere else.
I go back in time and get in touch with who I really am. I forget my troubles, my worries.
At last my love has come along. My lonely days are over and life is like a song.
I wanna show that gospel, country, blues, rhythm and blues, jazz, rock 'n' roll are all just really one thing. Those are the American music and that is the American culture.
A lot of people think the blues is depressing but that's not the blues I'm singing. When I'm singing blues, I singing life. People can't stand to listen to the blues, they've got to be phonies.
I want a Sunday kind of love A love to last past Saturday night And I’d like to know it’s more than love at first sight
You can't fake this music. You might be a great singer or a great musician but, in the need, that's got nothing to do with it. It's how you connect to the songs and to the history behind them.
I've gone through so much in my life.
I should have been dead a long time ago, but I am still here, and I'm the happiest I've ever been.
I'm not a braggart, but when I was a little girl people used to come from all over Hollywood to hear me sing.
See, I don't like places where people can't dance - don't like clubs or theatres where a bunch of bourgeois people sit around tip, tip, tipping their fingers.
The music was thunder and joy. Lightning bolts of happiness and praise, foot-stomping, dance-shouting, good-feeling singing from the soul.
It feels so good to be happy.
When I'm singing the blues, I'm singing life.
When I look out at the people and they look at me and they're smiling, then I know that I'm loved. That is the time when I have no worries, no problems.
People always say 'Etta, you know what your problem is? You're neither fish nor fowl. There is no place to rack you.' When I would go in a record shop, you might find one or two records by me in different stacks.
When I'm performing for the people, I am me, then.
I am that little girl who, when she was five years old, used to sing at church. Or I'm that 15-year-old young lady who wanted to be grown and wanted to sing and couldn't wait to be smokin' a cigarette, you know?
My mother always wanted me to be glamorous.
When I thought about that, it really fired me up, and once I lost all those pounds, I started to feel really good about myself.
I really turned into, you know, the real street kid.
I was kind of like a runaway, but I had a mother, you know what I mean, and I had a place to stay.
My mother was a jazz fanatic and she wanted me to play the piano so I could play jazz tunes. I wish I had learned but I was too busy getting into trouble!
I am so happy that I am alive and can walk.
Jazz took too much discipline. You have to come in at the right place, which is different than me singing the blues, where I can sing, 'Oh, baby,' if there's a pause in the melody. With jazz, you better leave that space open, or put in something real cool.
You know, YOUR President, the one with the big ears-he ain't my President - had that woman singing for him at his Inauguration. She's going to get her [expletive] whooped. How dare Beyonce sing MY song that I been singing forever. Now I'm going to sing it for y'all.
A few years ago, I thought, I'll never make it.
I started to go to the doctor to help me lose weight.
It's the same thing now. When I go onstage the young people scream and holler as much as the older generation.
I talked to the record company about what I had in mind.
They said they wanted something lush. I figured the best thing to do was let them hear what I had in mind.
And as I started reaching deeper I realized that most of the blues of that day was done by men. Women just didn't have the nerve.
When Malcolm X was assassinated I was working at the Apollo.
They brought his body to the Unity Funeral Home, which was around the corner.
It's not about battling the original artists when I record these songs, it's about paying tribute to them.
I'm not starry eyed, and I'm not money crazy.
Bobby Womack is always very real, both with his music and as a person.
I’ve learned to live with rage. In some ways, it’s my rage that keeps me going. Without it, I would have been whipped long ago. With it, I got a lot more songs to sing.
The only time that I am really truly happy - when I feel at my best - is when I'm on the stage.
Country music has the great stories.
They said that Etta James is still vulgar.
I said, Oh, how dare them say I'm still vulgar. I'm vulgar because I dance in the chair. What would they want me to do? Want me to just be still or something like that? I've got to do something.
Johnny Guitar... just one of my favorite singers of all time. I met him when we were both on the road with Johnny Otis in the '50s when I was a teenager. We traveled the country in a car together. I would hear him sing every night.
I sing the songs that people need to hear.
Now I can stand up on the stage again like I used to after five years of sitting down while I sang.
I'm not a bourgeois person, never will be.
People that can't stand to listen to the blues, they've got to be phonies.
But even so, I still get nervous before I go onstage.
In some ways, it's my rage that keeps me going.
You know the one with the big ears? Wait a minute, he ain't my president, he might be yours, he ain't my president. You know that woman he had singing for him, singing my song - she's gonna get her a- whipped. The great Beyoncé But I can't stand Beyoncé. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' president day singing my song that I've been singing forever.
I don't care who's playing. Even if it's my favorite artist, I'm probably not gonna go and see him.
That's where it begins and ends for me and these songs were the ones that touched me the deepest. It was like I was laying hold of some part of me that I didn't even know was there until I let it out.
My mother used to play nothing but Billie Holiday.
This is an album of songs that I've always loved, tunes that I heard.
For the first time in 53 years of recording, I really had control over an entire album, start to finish.
Once you lose the weight, you're really anxious to eat healthy.
Most of the songs I sing have that blues feeling in it.
They have that sorry feeling. And I don't know what I'm sorry about. I don't.