Etta James (1938 – 2012)
|Birth name||Jamesetta Hawkins|
|Also known as||Miss Peaches,
The Matriarch of R&B
|Born||January 25, 1938
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
|Died||January 20, 2012 (aged 73)
Riverside, California, U.S.
|Genres||Blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll,jazz, gospel|
|Labels||Modern, Chess/MCA Records,Argo, Crown, Cadet,Island/PolyGram Records,Private Music/RCA, RCA Victor Records, Elektra, Virgin/EMI Records, Verve Forecast/Universal Records|
|Associated acts||Harvey Fuqua, Johnny Otis,Sugar Pie DeSanto|
Etta James (born Jamesetta Hawkins; January 25, 1938 – January 20, 2012) was an American singer-songwriter. Her style spanned a variety of music genres including blues, R&B, soul, rock and roll, jazz and gospel. Starting her career in 1954, she gained fame with hits such as “The Wallflower“, “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 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 and 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.
Early life and career: 1938–1959
Jamesetta Hawkins was born on January 25, 1938, in Los Angeles, California, to Dorothy Hawkins, who was only 14 at the time. Her father has never been identified. James speculated that her father was the pool player Rudolf “Minnesota Fats” Wanderone, and met him briefly in 1987. Due to her mother being often absent from their Watts apartment, conducting relationships with various men, James lived with a series of foster parents, most notably “Sarge” and “Mama” Lu. James referred to her mother as “the Mystery Lady”.
James received her first professional vocal training at the age of five from James Earle Hines, musical director of the Echoes of Eden choir, at the St. Paul Baptist Church in south central Los Angeles. She became a popular singing attraction at the church, and Sarge tried to pressure the church into paying him money for her singing, but they refused. During drunken poker games at home, he would often wake James up in the early hours of the morning and force her through beatings to sing for his friends. As she was a bed-wetter, and often soaked with her own urine on these occasions, the trauma of being forced to sing meant she had a lifelong reluctance to sing on demand.
In 1950, Mama Lu died, and James’ real mother took her to the Fillmore District, San Francisco. Within a couple of years, James began listening to doo-wop and was inspired to form a girl group, called the Creolettes (due to the members’ light skinned complexions). The 14-year-old girl met musician Johnny Otis. Stories on how they met vary including Otis’ version in which James had come to his hotel after one of his performances in the city and persuaded him to audition her. Another story came that Otis spotted the group performing at a Los Angeles nightclub and sought them to record his “answer song” to Hank Ballard‘s “Work with Me, Annie“. Nonetheless, Otis took the group under his wing, helping them sign to Modern Records and changing their name from the Creolettes to the Peaches and gave the singer her stage name reversing Jamesetta into “Etta James”. James recorded the version, which she was allowed to co-author, in 1954, and the song was released in early 1955 as “Dance with Me, Henry“. Originally the name of the song was “Roll With Me, Henry” but was changed to avoid censorship due to the subtle title. In February of that year, the song reached number one on the Hot Rhythm & Blues Tracks chart. Its success gave the group an opening spot on Little Richard‘s national tour.
While on tour with Richard, pop singer Georgia Gibbs recorded her version of James’ song, which was released under the title “The Wallflower”, and became a crossover hit, reaching number one on the Billboard Hot 100, which angered James. After leaving the Peaches, James had another R&B hit with “Good Rockin’ Daddy”, but struggled with follow-ups. When her contract with Modern came up in 1960, she decided to sign with Leonard Chess‘ namesake label, Chess Records, and shortly afterwards got involved in a relationship with singer Harvey Fuqua, founder of the doo-wop group, The Moonglows.
Bobby Murray, aka “Taters”, toured with Etta James for 20 years. He wrote that James had her first hit single when she was 15 years of age and went steady with B.B. King when she was 16. Etta James believed the hit single “Sweet Sixteen” by King was about her.
|Birth name||Alicia Augello Cook|
|Also known as||Lellow|
|Born||January 25, 1981 (age 32)
New York, U.S.
|Genres||R&B, pop, soul|
|Occupations||Actress, musician, pianist, record producer, singer-songwriter|
|Instruments||Piano, vocals, keyboards|
|Labels||Arista, Columbia, J, RCA|
|Associated acts||Swizz Beatz, Usher, Beyoncé Knowles, Kerry Brothers, Jr.,Maxwell|
Alicia Augello Cook (born January 25, 1981), known professionally as Alicia Keys, is an American R&B singer-songwriter, pianist, musician, record producer, and actress. Keys released her debut album with J Records, having had previous record deals first with Columbia and then Arista Records. Keys’ debut album, Songs in A Minor, was a commercial success, selling over 12 million copies worldwide. She became the best-selling new artist and best-selling R&B artist of 2001.The album earned Keys five Grammy Awards in 2002, including Best New Artist and Song of the Year for “Fallin’” becoming the second American recording artist to win five Grammys in one night. Her second studio album, The Diary of Alicia Keys, was released in 2003 and was also another success worldwide, selling eight million copies. The album garnered her an additional four Grammy Awards in 2005. Later that year, she released her first live album, Unplugged, which debuted at number one in the United States. She became the first female to have an MTV Unplugged album to debut at number one and the highest since Nirvana in 1994.
Keys made guest appearances on several television series in the following years, beginning with Charmed. She made her film debut in Smokin’ Aces which included Ben Affleck, Andy Garcia, Chris Pine, Ryan Reynolds, Taraji P. Henson, Jeremy Piven and also went on to appear in The Nanny Diaries which starred Scarlett Johansson, Laura Linney, Paul Giamitti and Chris Evan in 2007. Her third studio album, As I Am, was released in the same year and sold five million copies worldwide, earning Keys an additional three Grammy Awards. The following year, she appeared in The Secret Life of Bees with Queen Latifah, Jennifer Hudson, Sophie Okonedo, and Dakota Fanning, which earned her a nomination at the NAACP Image Awards. She released her fourth album, The Element of Freedom, in December 2009, which became Keys’ first chart-topping album in the United Kingdom. She released her fifth album, Girl on Fire, in November 2012, which became Keys’ fifth chart-topping album in the United States.
Throughout her career, Keys has won numerous awards and has sold over 65 million records worldwide. Billboard magazine named her the top R&B songs artist of the 2000s decade. In 2010, VH1 included Keys on its list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. Billboard magazine placed her number ten on their list of Top 50 R&B/Hip-Hop Artists of the Past 25 Years. BlackBerry (formerly RIM) named her as its Global Creative Director at the Blackberry 10 Experience event in New York City on January 30, 2013. Keys then opened Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Louisiana on February 3, 2013, by singing the “The Star-Spangled Banner“.
Leigh Taylor-Young at the 1994 Emmy Awards
January 25, 1945 (age 68)
Washington, D.C., U.S.
|Other names||Leigh Taylor
Leigh Taylor Young
|Spouse(s)||Ryan O’Neal (1967-1973) (divorced)
Guy McElwaine (1978-unknown) (divorced)
John Morton (2013-present)
Leigh Taylor-Young (born January 25, 1945) is an American actress who has appeared on stage, screen, and television.
“Someone once told me that success is when preparation meets with opportunity. So obviously the most important thing is to be prepared when the opportunity comes.”
Leigh Taylor-Young was born on January 25, 1945, in Washington, D.C. Her last name is an amalgamation of the last names of her father, a diplomat, and her stepfather, a successful Detroit executive. Her younger siblings are actress and sculptor Dey Young and writer/director Lance Young. Taylor-Young was raised in Oakland County, Michigan, and graduated from Groves High School in Beverly Hills, Michigan, in 1963. Before attending Northwestern University as an economics major, she spent a summer shifting scenery and sweeping up at a Detroit little theater. However, she left before graduating to pursue a full-time acting career, making her professional debut on Broadwayin Three Bags Full. About dropping out of college, the actress explained:
- “I left there because I lost the most wonderful teacher. I didn’t want to go back when she left. My parents naturally were upset, and I spent four months at home thinking what to do, then went to New York.”
Taylor-Young got her first big break in 1966, when she was cast as Rachel Welles in the prime time soap opera Peyton Place. Her character was written in the show as a replacement for the character of Allison MacKenzie, previously played byMia Farrow. The show’s producer, Everett Chambers, cast her because of her “great warmth and sweet angelic qualities not unlike Mia”. At the time she received the role, Taylor-Young had been in California for only a few days. She initially went there in April 1966 to recuperate from an attack of pneumonia. She impressed the head producer of Peyton Place, Paul Monash, with a performance from The Glass Menagerie and was immediately signed a seven-year television and multiple motion picture contract. Shortly after, she told the press: “I’d have preferred to stay in New York to establish myself as an actress before coming to Hollywood.”
It was on this series that she met Ryan O’Neal, whom she later married. Taylor-Young had difficulty working on the show, explaining in an April 1967 interview:
- “When I got my first check for [Three Bags Full], I thought to myself, ‘isn’t this wonderful — being paid to have fun.’ But after working in 70 chapters of Peyton Place out here in Hollywood, I’m glad to get my paycheck. I can now understand why good actors complain about going stale in television. It’s difficult to give a character depth when there’s a man with a stop watch standing beside you complaining that the company is spending $3,000 a minute. Yes, I’ve learned that when you act in a TV series it becomes your whole life.”
Despite the huge amount of publicity she received while working on Peyton Place, Taylor-Young left the soap opera in 1967 due to her pregnancy. Following this, she pursued a career in films, landing a lucrative seven-year contract with a major studio. Her first film role came opposite Peter Sellers in the 1968 comedy, I Love You, Alice B. Toklas. The film was commercially successful, and she received a Golden Globe Award nomination for Most Promising Female Newcomer. This was followed by her appearance with husband Ryan O’Neal in The Big Bounce in 1969.
For the next several years, her pictures tended to be high budget films, such as The Adventurers and The Horsemen. She is perhaps best known for her performance as Shirl, the “furniture” girl, in the 1973 science fiction classic Soylent Green. For almost ten years after her appearance in Soylent Green, however, her career went into an extended hiatus as she concentrated on raising her son Patrick O’Neal.
The 1980s saw Leigh Taylor-Young return to both film and television, where her looks and voice often led to casting in roles of an aristocratic bent. In 1981, she appeared in the high tech Michael Crichton production Looker. In 1985, she was cast as Virginia Howell in Jagged Edge, and appeared in the romantic comedy film Secret Admirer.
In addition to her film work, Taylor-Young guest-starred on such television series as McCloud, Fantasy Island, The Love Boat, Hart to Hart, Hotel and Spenser: For Hire. She returned to her soap opera roots in 1983, appearing in the short-lived primetime series The Hamptons. From 1987 to 1989, she played Kimberly Cryder, a recurring character on Dallas, her first role in a major prime time soap since Peyton Place.
Despite being best known for her film and television work, she has stated a preference for live theatre where her career began. A favorite of Samuel Beckett, she starred opposite Donald Davis in the Irish playwright’s one act play Catastrophe (included in a trilogy of one-act plays billed asThe Beckett Plays) at the Edinburgh International Festival in 1984. Catastrophe with Taylor-Young also toured Los Angeles, New York City, and London.
1990s and 2000s
Taylor-Young’s recent film credits have included minor roles in Honeymoon Academy (1990), Bliss (1997), and Slackers (2002), as well as direct-to-video films Addams Family Reunion (1998) and Klepto (2003).
Perhaps her best-known television work was on the CBS series Picket Fences, in which she played mercurial mayor Rachel Harris from 1993 through 1995. She won an Emmy Award for the role in 1994, for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, as well as a Golden Globe nomination the following year. From 2004 through 2007, she played Katherine Barrett Crane on the soap opera Passions.
In addition to her roles on Picket Fences and Passions, Taylor-Young has also appeared on series such as The Young Riders, Murder, She Wrote, Sunset Beach, Malibu Shores, 7th Heaven and Life. She also had recurring roles on Beverly Hills, 90210, The Pretender, and UPN‘s The Sentinel.
Taylor-Young has also appeared in a handful of television films, including Perry Mason: The Case of the Sinister Spirit (1987), Who Gets the Friends?, and Stranger in My Home (1997).