Niagara Gazette — Marsha McWilson has become a household name in Niagara Falls, her work with the community and charity events, along with her powerful voice have made her something of a local celebrity.
Last year, she made an interesting discovery. People who went to her performances often shouted for her to sing the music of Etta James, a popular blues singer known for hits like “At Last,” “The Wallflower” and “Something’s Got a Hold on Me.” McWilson decided to listen to some of James’ music to see what he fans were talking about.
“When I looked her up I saw that she looked like me, and when I heard her sing, she sounded like me,” she said. “I never set out to do this, but when I heard her I lost my mind and I thought ‘this is it.’”
McWilson, who defines herself as a “soul singer,” has performed around the world. She has been singing the music of Etta James for the past year, she dresses up like James and even uses a faux mole to authenticate the look.
She was first featured performing as Etta James at the Niagara Falls Blues Festival. Her next performance is at renewed, 88-year-old club, The Topper.
With the motto, “come for dinner, stay for the show,” The Topper aims to entertain their patrons with the best musical performers in the area and provide them with a high quality menu. McWilson says it calls forth images of clubs where James might have performed in her heyday. She said it comes complete with a restaurant area, a bar area, a full stage and a dance floor.
“We are a venue that specializes in providing the highest quality music we can put on the stage,” said Carl DeFranco. “That’s why she’s playing here, because she is of that high caliber. She’s fantastic at what she does.”