Etta James

“I don’t think she looks like me.” That’s what Etta James told the press last year, when Beyoncé Knowles portrayed her in Cadillac Records. The ingénue told Elle, upon the film’s release, that she seemed to have James’ approval in the end, even though the film takes liberties with large chunks of the songstress’ life story. Her tumultuous past had already been chronicled in the autobiography Rage to Survive, and her star has studded Hollywood and La Brea since 2003. After many years of battling health issues, the 71-year-old James is once again able to sing standing up at her concerts. For devoted fans and those who’ve recently come to know her (perhaps by Beyoncé’s moving performance of the 1960 ballad “All I Could Do Is Cry”), James’ Seattle appearance is cause for celebration. Her most recent album, All the Way (2006), is a collection of covers of songs by R. Kelly, John Lennon, Prince, and others. Her 40-year canon includes such relentless classics as Barack and Michelle's Inaugural Ball favorite “At Last.” James’ luscious contralto conveys better than nearly anyone else’s the joy, grief, and all emotions in between of a life thoroughly lived. RACHEL SHIMP

Wed., Jan. 28, 7:30 p.m., 2009

 
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