Recently released (in the US) film Cadillac Records, is getting good reviews in part for a standout performance from Beyoncé Knowles as singing great Etta James. James has been sober for the last twenty years but has a chequered history including a well publicised struggle with heroin addiction. Previously the diva has said complimentary things about Ms Knowles performance but has since declared that Beyoncé will “get her *** whipped…”, seemingly upset at the young pretender’s performance of James’ signature song “At last” at President Obama’s inauguration.
Diva wars aside, the story of Chess Records is an intriguing one. The label was started by a Russian-born Jew and a black blues singer from Mississippi and recorded such legendary talents as Bo Diddley, Chuck Berry, and Muddy Waters, and has been described as “America’s greatest blues label”.
For more on Chess Records, and the currently sparring divas check out the following –
- Sound recordings by Etta James
- Sound recordings by Beyoncé Knowles
- The record men : the Chess brothers and the birth of rock and roll
- Chess pieces : the very best of Chess
So who do you think should win in the Diva smackdown? The seventy-one year old James or the mere slip of a thing, twenty-seven year-old Knowles? Is James justified in feeling put out now that her signature song’s been appropriated by a younger singer? Any other examples of this that have happened in the past? (I seem to remember Little Eva being less than enthused about one Kylie Minogue’s rendition of Locomotion…)