She is regarded as having bridged the gap between rhythm and blues and rock and roll, and is the winner of six Grammys and 17 Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993, the Blues Hall of Fame in 2001, and the Grammy Hall of Fame in both 1999 and 2008. Rolling Stone ranked James number 22 on their list of the 100 Greatest Singers of All Time and number 62 on the list of the 100 Greatest Artists.
A lot of folks don’t know that James set out to record a country album back in the 90s. It is terrific. It’s called Love’s Been Rough On Me.
That said, in this Rolling Stone interview from 1997, James didn’t seem to have the same high regard for her foray into Nashville.
Well … I’d been dying to make a country record. I love the women in country ‑ Patsy Cline, Loretta Lynn, Kitty Wells ‑ and I wanted to be the first black woman to do the Grand Ole Opry, if just to say it’s the same fucking thing as rhythm & blues! So I did Love’s Been Rough on Me with Barry Beckett [James' longtime producer], and when it was done, the label heard it and said, “You gotta pizazz this up or it won’t get played. [Growls) Needs some of that ass‑kicking shit." Uh, OK. So they put all these horns on it and remixed it. Even the cover photo ‑ they wouldn't use the one I wanted. That record has nothing to do with me ‑ looking like some old woman with a leopard scarf around my neck, getting ready to go make some spaghetti!
But I wasn't gonna fight it, 'cause I wasn't gonna win. Nowadays, when you get past 35, it seems like you can't get a record going. I never hear my stuff played on the air, unless it's an oldies station and somebody goes [mock DJ voice], “Now we’re gonna go waaaay back.” But I’ll make that country record yet. I’ll be on the cover standing by an old wagon wheel, with my foot propped up on a cactus or something, with a cowboy hat on and one of those shingle leather jackets. Etta Goes CountryRIP, Miss James.