Etta James died on Friday (January 20) at the age of 73 and during the 2012 Grammy Awards, Alicia Keys will pay tribute to the legendary blues songstress. Keys will hit the stage with another blues icon, Bonnie Raitt, for a special ode to the “At Last” singer who passed away after a long battle with leukemia. Following her death, Beyonce—who portrayed James in the 2008 film “Cadillac Records” penned a personal farewell note in her memory.
“This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen,” Beyoncé wrote on her blog. “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.”
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.
Beyoncé is the latest in a long line of celebrities paying tribute to James. “Showing respect, appreciation and love for all the wonderful music and joy #ettajames brought to the world…#ettajamesforever,” Black Eyed Peas frontman will.i.am wrote on Twitter.
Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams recalled how James’ music influenced her. “#EttaJames, I will be forever grateful for your voice and your soul. Rest in peace.” Rapper Flo Rida — whose latest hit, “Good Feeling,” samples James’ “Something’s Got a Hold on Me” — wrote, “I’m deeply saddened by the passing of the Great Etta James and I will be forever grateful for the gift she Blessed me with.”