Grammy-winning singer Beyonce Knowles-Carter has become the latest celebrity to offer a reaction to the passing of music icon Etta James this week and reflected on how large of an impact she had on her.
Having played the role of James in 2008’s Cadiillac Records flick, Beyonce spoke on her respect for the R&B legend.
“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time,” she penned on her blog. “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.” (Beyonce Online)
Beyonce also won a Grammy award for performing James’ “At Last” in the film.
B famously portrayed the blond jazz singer in the 2008 biopic “Cadillac Records.” Her version of “At Last” from the film’s soundtrack would later win a Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance. Beyoncé’s version of James’ iconic ballad once-again made headlines when she performed the track at President Obama’s inaugural ball in 2009. The performance was initially met with some criticism from the always-outspoken James, but she later came around. (MTV)
Details of the icon’s passing hit the Internet Friday (January 20) morning.
Etta James, whose assertive, earthy voice lit up such hits as “The Wallflower,” “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” and the wedding favorite “At Last,” has died, according to her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon. She was 73. She died from complications from leukemia with her husband, Artis Mills, and her sons by her side, De Leon said. She was diagnosed with leukemia in 2010, and also suffered from dementia and hepatitis C. James died at a hospital in Riverside, California. She would have turned 74 Wednesday. “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” De Leon said. “She was a true original who could sing it all — her music defied category.” (CNN)
Despite a music career which dated back to the 1950’s, James’ achievements flourished well into the 2000’s.
James did get her accolades over the years. She was inducted into the Rock Hall in 1993, captured a Grammy in 2003 for best contemporary blues album for “Let’s Roll;” one in 2004 for best traditional blues album for “Blues to the Bone;” and one for best jazz vocal performance for 1994’s “Mystery Lady: Songs of Billie Holiday.” She was also awarded a special Grammy in 2003 for lifetime achievement and received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. But her health went into decline, and by 2011, she was being cared for at home by a personal doctor. A struggle between her sons and her husband developed as she became more ill, as he sought to control her estate. Her sons, Donto James and Sametto James, had power of attorney over her affairs. (Fox News)
Check out Beyonce’s Etta James tribute below: