The best Etta James songs were written when her career was launched at the tender age of 14 with a doo-wop group called Peaches. Known as a rhythm and blues, soul and gospel singer, Etta James has continued to produce top heart-wrenching songs well into the '90s. During her lifetime, James won six Grammy Awards and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Grammy Hall of Fame and Blues Hall of Fame.
- "All I Could Do Was Cry" This song is known as a rhythm and blues type doo-wop tune that became her first major solo hit. This Etta James song peaked on the Billboard Rhythm and Blues charts at No. 2 in 1960. The song was written by Berry Gordy, Billy Davis and Gwen Gordy. At the time the song was written, Etta James's former boyfriend, Harvey Fuqua, was dating Gwen Gordy. Fuqua and Gordy married the year the song was recorded, which caused a bit of tension in James's usual bluesy vocals.
- "At Last" This song is known as Etta James's signature song even though it was not very successful on the pop charts. However, the song was No. 2 on Billboard's Rhythm and Blues chart and No. 47 on Billboard's Pop chart. Numerous artists have continued to perform this song even though James's version is one of the most famous songs and is often played at weddings and receptions.
- "The Wallflower" This song was written by Johnny Otis, Hank Ballard and Etta James, but was James who recorded the song and made it a rhythm and blues hit. In the pop market the song was known as "Dance With Me Henry" by Georgia Gibbs and topped the charts in 1955. For her recording of "Dance With Me Henry," Etta James received a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 1955.
- "I Just Want to Make Love to You" Etta James recorded this song for her first album, "At Last." This particular song was also on the B-side of the classic single "At Last." The song "I Just Want to Make Love to You" was re-released in 1966 in the United Kingdom after a Diet Coke commercial featured the song in one of their ad campaigns. This Etta James song stayed on the United Kingdom's best single charts at No. 5 for seven weeks.
"I'd Rather Go Blind" The song was written while Etta James was visiting her friend Ellington "Fugi" Jordan in prison. Due to her own tax problems at the time, James gave songwriting credit to her partner Billy Foster. The song was recorded on her "Tell Mama" album and as a B-side on a single. Music critics have deemed this song as one of the best double sided singles of the period because of the raw emotion and poetic quality of the songs.