Born Jamesetta Hawkins, the matriarch or R&B, who is most widely known as Etta James, is the woman responsible for bridging the gap between rock and roll, jazz, blues, soul and more. Her unique sound always made for heartfelt music–I mean the type you can literally feel rip your heart from your chest.

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With lyrics like, “That I don’t wanna watch you leave me, baby/Most of all, I just don’t, I just don’t wanna be free, no,” you can tell that James lived a tragic life that heavily inspired her music. Instead of focusing on the tragic star’s sordid past, let’s lift her up on her birthday with a list of her best songs (and not to worry, “At Last” is not on the list, even though it’s a classic).

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