Jamesetta Hawkins, better known as Etta James, the powerful, earthy blues singer who helped lay the foundations of rock and rhythm & blues with her pioneering work in the 1950s and 60s, passed away this morning in Riverside, California after a long battle with chronic leukemia. “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon told CNN. “She was a true original who could sing it all — her music defied category.” James was 73.
Most noted for her recordings on the famous Chess records in the 1960s, James had just released The Dreamer–which she described as her final album–this past November. Though recognized with six Grammys and inductions into numerous Halls of Fame, James was most recognizable to younger music fans because of Beyoncé Knowles portrayal of her in the 2008 Cadillac Records (Beyoncé also famously sang James’ signature hit “At Last” for President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama at the first inaugural ball of their tenure in the White House). The Dreamer–which features covers of essential songs by artists ranging from Guns n’ Roses to Otis Redding is available on amazon now.
spotted at Newsday