At Last: the Etta James Story

Music, Funk, soul and disco
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At Last
Photograph: Supplied

Vika Bull's Etta James returns to Arts Centre Melbourne for five days in June

Straight into the music, At Last: The Etta James Story opens with a bang. 

James's voice is one of a kind, and the Black Sorrows' Vika Bull (portraying Etta) is not trying to emulate it. She is there to belt out her idol's best songs and tell her story. And belt them out is what she does. Vika Bull performs with that Etta James sass and attitude. 

'I’d Rather Go Blind’ is the song of the show, with ‘At Last’ a close second. 

The story bares all: James's successes, failures, lovers, friends and family. It is narrated by Bull and Tibor Gyapjas.

James's life was a trainwreck. At her lowest, she suffered from cocaine and heroin addiction, served time in jail and had massive money problems. It’s a huge surprise that her career lasted as long as it did.

But the highs were high. During her long career she won six Grammys and was given a star on the Hollywood walk of fame and was even was invited to sing at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics opening ceremony, performing ‘When the Saints Go Marching In’.

She rubbed shoulders with artist like Ike Turner, Chuck Berry and Muddy Waters, who were all part of the Chess Records label.

You can hear Etta James's influence in artists like Christina Aguilera, Adele and the late Amy Winehouse.

The band is incredible, the music excellent, the story emotional. My one regret was that I was not standing for the show, I could not keep my feet still.

By: Shelley Strauss

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