Download Etta James – one hit wonder? Actually, that’s pretty much true. “At Last” was considered her “signature” song, but other singers have signature songs with a string of other hits to back it all up. Not so with poor Etta. She had a couple of other minor hits, but even this song never made it to number one. Must be the quality of the composition itself that carried her for so many years and she certainly sang it with heart. We have performed it in the past using this arrangement and it’s one of Karen’s best. Everyone knows and loves the tune but very few can tell you who recorded that version you keep hearing in commercials and movies.
You see, Etta had an attitude. It seems the pop singer Beyonce sang it at Barack Obama’s inauguration ball and Etta was not happy. Her remarks to an audience a few days later made this abundantly clear: “He might be your president but he ain’t my president. But I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song – she’s going to get her ass whupped”. Then, a week later, she again pontificated, “The great Beyonce. Like I said, she ain’t mine. I can’t stand Beyonce. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol’ president day, gonna be singing my song that I’ve been singing forever”.
Your song, Etta? Really? I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that “At Last” was a bigger hit 20 years before you did it – recorded by none other than the Glenn Miller Orchestra. It’s not always about the singers, folks.