Sunday, January 22, 2012

Etta James

The angels are singing "At Last" as their Etta James enters the Kingdom.  May her memory be eternal. 
Perhaps I'm a bit partial to Ms James.  This was the first dance for my husband and me.  No doubt some of you had the pleasure of this being your first song as well.  Let's explore Etta James and link her to Blessed John Paul.

If you're letting this video play while reading the blog, you are realizing that Etta James is more of a jazz singer than strictly a pop or R&B singer.

Reckoning #1, Bloodline and an underworld

Etta's mother, Dorothy Hawkins, was 14 in 1938 when she gave birth to Jamesetta (Etta took her first and last stage name from this original name).  Though she never really knew who her father was, she speculated it was Minnesota Fats, the famous pool player.  Fats never admitted his age, but he was probably born within the first 15 years of the 20th century.  That would make him about 20 years older than Dorothy when Etta was conceived.  Do you see a resemblance? 

Here's Minnesota Fats talking smack and shootin' pool, what he did best.  I remember him on TV in the 70s.  My parents got such a kick out of his smack talk and amazing pool shots. 

Both Etta and Minnesota had movies made about them.  Etta was played by third degree, Beyonce KnowlesHer possible father, Minnesota Fats, was played by Jackie Gleason in the 1961 movie, "The Hustler."  Gleason won an Academy Award for that role.  In the 60s, he made this campaign ad for Richard Nixon.  We have a bad connotation with Richard Nixon's name now, but, in light of the shenanigans our current government is getting up to with SuperPacs, insider trading in Congress, and swinging Republicans for family values, Nixon is looking more and more like a boy scout!

Nixon and Pope Paul VI
In 1957, before becoming president, Richard Nixon met Pope Pius XII.  Later, as president, he met Pope Paul VI from whom Blessed John Paul II got half of his name. 

Reckoning #2, The Artist

When Etta was 14 her life changed, she was taken under the wing of Johnny Otis, The Godfather of Rhythm and Blues.  Otis' and James' age difference mirrored that of Minnesota Fats and Dorothy Hawkings, but, instead of sexual exploitation, Otis mentored the young girl. 

Otis was born Ioannis Alexandres Veliotes, the son of Greek working classimmigrants.  

Otis' older brother became a diplomat.  He was US Ambassedor to Jordan and then to Egypt, where he knew and worked with First Degree, Hosni Mubarak

Otis produced hundreds of albums and discovered scores of artists.  He produced the original version of the Lieber and Stoller tune, Hound Dog, a song later made famous by Elvis Presley.  Here is the original version by Big Mama Thornton.  Guess who met second degree, Richard Nixon?
To recap, Etta James is four degrees from Pope John Paul II.
  • Etta to Beyonce to Zahi Hawas to George Bush to Pope John Paul II
  • Etta to Johnny Otis to Ambassador Veliotis to Hosni Mubarak to Pope John Paul II
She is 5 degrees by these reckonings.
  • Etta to Minnesota Fats to Jackie Gleason to Richard Nixon to Pope Pius XII and Paul VI
  • Etta to Johnny Otis to Elvis Presley to Richard Nixon to Pius XII and Paul VI to Pope John Paul II

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