Etta James began her long career as a singer early, singing doo-wop as a teenager in the 1950s. She has enjoyed equal success crooning blues ballads, belting out rhythm and blues and rock and roll, or interpreting jazz. While the ease with which she can navigate these various styles demonstrates her impressive skill, it has also served to confound the music industry as to how to categorize her. In the late 20th century and into the next, James has finally been widely acknowledged as one of the most talented singers of her era.
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