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Etta James

"And life is like a song," sings Etta James on "At Last," one of her most enduring numbers. Although the track is centered around the title refrain, this particular lyric stands out as one that mirrors James's life, which has been riddled with pain, bolstered by hope and built upon malady after malady, including heroin and alcohol addiction, money and weight problems and, of course, man troubles. For better or worse, men have had a tremendous impact on James, but she's channeled any heartache and longing she's experienced into her music -- and you can feel it. When she growls, "I just want to make love to you," you believe that right down to her weary bones, she wants nothing more than to do just that. It's safe to say that James has had a profound influence on every woman who has sung anything even remotely blues-like in the past several decades.


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