PLENTY OF SOUL
Vika Bull is in her element performing in At Last – The Etta James Story, which interweaves the Etta James story with songs from her career
There’s value in remembering musicians of the past, says Vika Bull. The 49-year-old singer was just a teenager when soulful American singer Etta James entered her life. At the time, she was part of a music group.
“The bass player in that band gave me Etta’s records and said ‘Have you heard this singer? You should take her home and listen to her because I reckon you’d really dig it’ and I did and I fell in love with her and I’ve been listening to her ever since,” Bull says.
These days, Bull sings Etta James professionally, starring in At Last – The Etta James Story. The show will be performed on the Gold Coast this weekend.
It was developed by Moira Bennett and John Livings and the idea was brought to Bull’s attention soon after the death of James in 2012.
“So they asked me and I thought about it for a few days and then said ‘yes’ and I’m really glad that I did,” Bull says.
The show’s creators were receptive to Bull’s own input.
“They were very open and, you know, to suggestions and they asked me what were my favourite Etta songs and yeah, we worked together on the set list,” Bull says.
The show interweaves the Etta James story with songs from her career. Bull appears as herself in the show.
“We’ve tried to do it so that, you know, there are lots of songs in there that people will recognise because people don’t realise just how many Etta James songs they know,” Bull says.
“They only think they know At Last and that’s not the case.”
Bull says she is pleased with people’s happy response to the production. But she admits there is a pressure that comes with carrying At Last – The Etta James Story.
“I try and sing it, you know, as true to the original as I can,” she says of her interpretation of James’ voice. James’s life was not perfect. “I had no idea she had, you know, battled a drug addiction,” Bull says.
At Last – The Etta James Story, Twin Towns, Tweed Heads, Saturday night
Vika Bull stars in At Last: The Etta James Story.