Etta James’ funeral marked a final goodbye for family, fans and famous friends as they gathered Saturday in Los Angeles to bid farewell to the singer.
Christina Aguilera helped give the four-time Grammy winner a fitting sendoff by singing James’ signature song, “At Last,” for the hundreds of mourners at Greater Bethany Community Church in Gardena, Calif. Stevie Wonder joined up with the church choir to pay his respects to James, who passed away Jan. 20 at 73, and Al Sharpton was there to give the eulogy.
"Whenever I hear that song, I freeze," Donald Hicks, 67, of Inglewood told the L.A. Times about James' megahit "At Last." "I even pull over when it comes on."
News spread in December that the rhythm and blues singer was suffering from terminal chronic leukemia. The bleak diagnosis followed past health issues like sepsis, kidney failure, gastric bypass surgery, dementia and drug addiction. In addition, her children were involved in court proceedings to take control of James’ estate away from her husband, Artis Mills, but lost.
An inspiration to generations of musicians, she was “equally at home singing unadulterated blues, searing R&B and sophisticated jazz," says Times pop music writer Randy Lewis.
-- Emily Christianson
Photo: Stevie Wonder sings at Etta James' funeral. Credit: Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times
The Associated Press contributed to this report.