I had the chance to see Etta James sing two times. The first time was in 1986. I was taken on a first date to a small club in Watts, down in the hood. She was the opening act for Screaming Jay Hawkins. I was the only white girl in the whole club. She sang for her people. I could not believe what I heard nor saw. The experience was religious as much as music can warm the soul. My soul was boiling over so much that I could not even bear to hear Screaming Jay Hawkins sing. My date and I quickly left the club.
The second time I had taken the actress Diane Lane to hear Etta James play at the Roxy on Sunset Boulevard in 1988. I could not believe what I was hearing...Etta was singing with a different voice...one for the white audience. I realized how fortunate I was to hear her really sing that wonderful and haunting voice of hers in that small club in Watts.