That’s Right – Ms. Etta James Has a New Album Out… The Essential Modern Records Collection. Check it Out!
Etta James was born Jamesetta Hawkins (Jan 25, 1938) in Los Angeles to a 14 year old girl, Dorothy Hawkins. Dorothy would later tell her daughter that her dad was a famous white pool player, but no one really knows for sure. Etta would receive her first vocal lessons at the ripe age of 5 from James Earl Hines. Hines was the musical director for the Echoes of Eden choir at the St. Paul Baptist Church in L.A.
In 1950, James and her family moved to the San Francisco area, which is where this album comes into play. While in San Fran, James would spend several years under the tutelage of Johnny Otis. There are several contradicting accounts of how Otis came to discover James. But either way, she was discovered, and spent several years with her vocal doo-wop group “The Peaches” even recording with them in L.A. in 1954 without her mother’s permission. Kinda rebellious. Good old Etta….
Obviously James is most famous for her Chess Recordings, being credited with helping keep the record company on its feet after the advent of Rock and Roll. However, some of Etta James more fascinating recordings came out long before Chess. As mentioned above, Etta James had a recording career under the watchful eye of Johnny Otis, recording a number of songs for the Bihari Brothers’ Modern Records. The latest album, The Essential Modern Records Collection, is a collection of those singles.
This album really highlights the fact that Etta James was an accomplished and talented singer long before she came to Chess. The compilation itself is definitely a great one to have in the collection. My only negative comment about the album is the fact that it doesn’t have ALL of the Modern Records recordings, as it should. However, the ones provided are a great listen, and a nice piece of history. If you are an Etta James fan, or someone looking ot get into her music, this is a great compilation to have. Listening to it you can hear the artist she is destined to become.
I give the album an overall 3 stars out of 5.