CNN reports that soul and blues legend Etta James has passed away after her extended battle with leukemia. She was 73.
James was born Jamesetta Hawkins in Los Angeles. She was singing gospel in churches and on radio stations by the age of five, and was quickly picked up by Chess Records, the iconic Chicago-based independent record label known for it’s powerful Blues Music hitmaking machine in the 50s. Throughout the 50s, she released a string of hits like “Good Rockin’ Daddy”. In 1960, she signed with Arco, a subsidiary of Chess, and her partnership with the label would be long and fruitful. Working with Chess, James released her most iconic songs, including “All I Could Do Was Cry”, “Trust in Me”, and the eternal wedding staple “At Last”.
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.
Her most famous album, At Last!, was released in 1961, wich featured her wildly popular songs “At Last”, “All I Could Do Was Cry”, and “Trust in Me”. The album quickly shot her to international super-stardom. Beyonce Knowles portrayed James in the recent hit movie, Cadillac Records. In 2009, James sang “At Last” as a guest performer on Dancing with the Stars. To date, James has won six Grammy awards, is a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame inductee, Blues Hall of Fame inductee, and a seventeen-time Blues Music Award winner, including a multiple-time winner of Soul/Blues Female Artist of the Year.
The powerful singer’s last album was The Dreamer, released two and a half years ago. “It’s ironic”, Etta’s long time manager Lupe De Leon told Entertainment Weekly, “because she sounded so vibrant and powerful on it.” In the liner notes, Etta wrote in no uncertain terms that Dreamer would be her final album.