Etta James, the Grammy award-winning, soulful singer with that untouchable voice has died from complications stemming from leukemia in Riverside, California today. James was 73. CNN is reporting that her husband Artis Mills and her sons were at her side when the singer passed. The Wall Street Journal reports that the singer also suffered from hepatitis C and dementia and spent two weeks in the hospital earlier this month. Funeral arrangements for the James, who belongs to the Rock & Roll, Rockabilly, Blues and Grammy halls of fame, have yet to be announced. Entertainment Weekly has an obituary to the James, who was born Jamesetta Hawkins.
"This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world," her manager and friend Lupe De Leon said. "She was a true original who could sing it all -- her music defied category." De Leon is correct. James produced hits like "Something's Got a Hold on Me" and "The Wallflower". Southern California's 89.3 KPCC, has a great anecdote about the latter, "The Wallflower", that's just one part of a very-detailed and thoughtful story on the singer's life:
“During those days you weren't allowed to say ‘roll’ because roll was like a vulgar word. You know, think about it. They would probably burn Prince at the stake! What we had to do was sell it underground and change the title to ‘Wallflower’ so that all the kids could go buy it and listen to it," she said.
And of course, James will always be known for the version of "At Last", one of the most recognizable love songs in music history.
As De Leon and our commenter Edward E point out, James' voice defied genres:
And a personal favorite from your blogger (yes, un-PC lyrics and all):
For a catalog of James' best hits, and there are plenty of them, head on over to Spotify.
(We'll be updating this post as more news comes in.)
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.