'At Last' singer Etta James remembered by Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, and more

Saturday, 21 January 2012 14:40
jamesEtta012112_optBY BOB HOLT

Blues superstar Etta James' legacy is living on with celebrities tweeting and reflecting on her worldly influence and musical talent. 

Singer Beyonce Knowles, who played Etta James in the 2008 movie "Cadillac Records," said the late R&B singer’s music inspired her to become a stronger artist.

"Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime," said Beyonce, according to the Chicago Tribune. James died of complications from leukemia on Friday. And celebrities have continued to send in tributes.

Will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas posted on Twitter, "Showing respect appreciation and love for all the wonderful music and joy #ettajames brought to the world...#ettajamesforever." Singer Mariah Carey said, "Rest in peace to one of the world's most influential singers Etta James, you will be missed."

According to ABC News, James, 73, was born in Los Angeles in 1938 to a 14-year-old mother and was brought up by a series of caregivers. She sang with doo-wop trio The Peaches in San Francisco, and had a No. 1 hit on the R&B charts with “Roll With Me, Henry” in 1955. Signature song "At Last" hit No. 2 on the Billboard R&B chart and on their Hot 100.

“At Last” was written in 1941 and originally recorded by Glenn Miller’s orchestra. James won four Grammy Awards, and received a lifetime-achievement award in 2003, according to the New York Times.

James’ husband and two sons had been battling over control of her estate, which went to her husband just weeks before her death. She had fought with health issues, addiction problems and dementia over the last years of her life.

The Palm Beach Post reported that James’ last album “The Dreamer,” was released three months before she died. James sings a mixture of R&B covers, but demonstrated her wide range by including Guns N’ Roses hit “Welcome to the Jungle” in the collection.

Singer Bonnie Raitt, a close friend of James, said, “I think that’s what appealed to people, aside from the fact that her personality on and off the stage was so huge and irrepressible. She was ribald and raunchy and dignified, classy and strong and vulnerable all at the same time.”