R.I.P. Etta James & Best National Anthem Singers Ever?

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Today we have an obituary for a wildly talented performer. Etta James – the smoky-voiced R&B singer whose career endured for fifty-plus years, passed away at age 73 from leukemia this past weekend. If you’ve heard her, you probably know what a truly astounding voice this lady had. James was perhaps most well-known for the songs “At Last” and “I Just Want To Make Love To You “ both of which enjoyed surges of popularity again in later years due to their use in commercials. Known to many as “the greatest modern blues singer”,  Etta James began singing in church at age 14; she started to gain notoriety in the 1960s when she signed on with Chess Records, her music label for nearly twenty years. (There’s a pretty good movie called Cadillac Records, based on the real-life Chess Records, and in it Beyoncé plays James – and also sings “At Last” – definitely worth a look.) James racked up countless hits over the years and won six Grammy Awards. In 1983 she received a star on The Hollywood Walk of Fame and she was also inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993. She’s also credited with inspiring countless younger singers enjoying tremendous success today. Adele has said that Etta was a major influence upon her, and Katy Perry, Christina Aguilera, Lady Gaga and R.Kelly immediately took to the web to tweet and blog about this beloved blues icon… with the otherworldly voice. She shall be remembered.

Speaking of great voices, Aerosmith frontman and American Idol judge/enfant terrible Steven Tyler sang the National Anthem at yesterday’s AFC championship game. (Full disclosure: I happen to like Tyler a lot but didn’t actually catch the song live.) The Patriots were playing, and Tyler proudly wore Patriots garb and embraced the job – although there are many who think he was perfectly awful. Within minutes of the game Tyler’s rendition was sent all over the Internet, the subject of great ridicule. Did you watch it? What do you think? Was it just a tough crowd, and an even tougher environment — or was he genuinely lackluster? Let us know your thoughts.

Today’s poll:

Which of these Super Bowl National Anthem singers did it best?

1)   Carrie Underwood

2)   Whitney Houston

3)   Jennifer Hudson

4)   Faith Hill

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