Sunday 17 December 2017

Soul star Etta James dies at 73

Etta James is said to have died from complications of leukaemia
Etta James is said to have died from complications of leukaemia

Etta James has died aged 73.

The At Last singer had been suffering from dementia and kidney problems, and was battling leukaemia. In December 2011, her physician announced that her leukaemia was terminal, and asked for prayers for the singer.

During her illness, her husband Artis Mills and her two sons fought bitterly over control of her one million dollar (£640,000) estate.

Etta died at Riverside Community Hospital, Los Angeles, with her husband and sons at her side, her manager, Lupe De Leon, said.

"It's a tremendous loss for her fans around the world," he said. "She'll be missed. A great American singer. Her music defied category."

It was Etta's jazz-inflected rendition of At Last that would come to define her and make her legendary. The song, which starts with sumptuous strings before Etta begins to sing, was a remake of a 1941 standard. The singer made it her own, and her version became the new standard.

Etta performed well into her senior years, and it was At Last that kept bringing her the biggest ovations.

The singer 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.

Her husband and her two sons, Donto James and Sametto James, fought over control of her estate, though a deal was later struck keeping Mills as the conservator and capping the singer's expenses at 350,000 dollars

Press Association

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