Etta James and The Roots Band

Last year's Cadillac Records didn't catch on with cinema lovers as did recent biopics of Ray Charles, Johnny Cash, etc., in part because of its split focus. Viewers got a mere taste of assorted Chess Records performers who deserved more screen time than they got — particularly Etta James, portrayed in the film by Beyoncé Knowles. The average person knows James, if they know her at all, as the woman behind the toweringly romantic "At Last," which has become a staple of weddings and click flicks. But her long career has been marked by enormous successes, equally large failures and dramatic episodes aplenty — many of them associated with drug addiction that she didn't entirely kick until 1988. And if that's not enough, she had gastric bypass surgery a few years back, after which she shed more than 200 pounds. Her story could fill a movie all by itself, and unlike Charles and Cash, she's still around to tell it herself.


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