Etta James, aka the Matriarch of R&B, died today following a battle with leukemia and dementia. She was 73.
The legendary singer had an illustrious, albeit sometimes troubled, career that spanned decades thanks to her ability to adapt to different genres. From soul to jazz to the blues to gospel, she covered the musical bases and then some with singles like “At Last,” “Tell Mama,” “The Wallflower (Dance With Me, Henry),” and “Pushover,” among many others.
Her acclaim went beyond the Billboard charts. In the past 20 years, she was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Rockabilly Hall of Fame, got her own star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and received a Billboard R&B Founders Award. She also took home six Grammy Awards throughout her career, which concluded in November of last year with the release of The Dreamer.
We learned that James’ health had worsened over the past year as recently as two weeks ago, when she was transported back home after a lengthy hospital stay. Her manager commented, “We all think it’s best for her to be at home.”
You can watch a lovely live performance of “At Last” below. R.I.P. Miss Peaches. [CNN]
Update: Beyonce has issued a statement on the passing of Etta James, who you might recall Bey played in the film Cadillac Records. The statement is below along with her rendition of James’ “At Last.”
“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime. Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist. When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter. She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed.”