Etta James dies at 73

Greta Kaul

Etta James, the rhythm and blues singer who famously recorded the wedding classic ‘”At Last,” died Friday, the Associated Press reports. She was 73.

James was born in Los Angeles, where her voice stood out in her church choir at a young age.

“My mother always wanted me to be a jazz singer, but I always wanted to be raunchy,” she wrote in her 1995 autobiography, “Rage to Survive.”

In the early 1950’s, she was discovered singing on a San Francisco street corner by bandleader Johnny Otis. At age 15, she forged a note from her mother claiming to be 18in order to accompany Otis to Los Angeles, recording “Roll With Me, Henry.”

Apart from slow, sultry jazz and R&B numbers, James was known for raising hell in the music industry and battling a heroin addiction.

President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama notably danced to “At Last,” as sung by Beyonce Knowles, at Pres. Obama’s inaugural ball.

James died surrounded by family in Los Angeles from complications with leukemia, with which she was diagnosed in 2010.