Grammy-winning blues and soul singer Etta James, most famous for her signature song “At Last,” is terminally ill, her doctor and manager said in comments published Friday.
Experts declared two weeks ago that the leukemia from which the 73-year-old was suffering was inoperable, Dr Elaine James told The Press-Enterprise newspaper, which covers where the singer lives in Riverside, California.
“I am southern and Christian and would just ask for the prayers of her fans and friends,” said the physician, no relation to the singer. “They know she’s been sick, but not how sick,” she added.
James was hospitalized in early 2010 for dementia and leukemia, and went in again for similar problems in May 2011, said the paper, which reported there has been a family legal dispute over her assets and payment of her care.
Her longtime manager, Lupe De Leon, told the Entertainment Weekly news website EW.com: “Etta has a terminal illness. She’s in the final stages of leukemia. She has also been diagnosed with dementia and Hepatitis C.
“She’s in a home right now and mostly sleeps. She is under the care of a live-in doctor from Riverside Community Hospital and two others who have placed her on oxygen.
“Her husband is with her 24 hours a day, and her sons visit regularly. We’re all very sad. We’re just waiting.”
James, born Jamesetta Hawkins, has won four Grammys and seventeen Blues Music Awards. She was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 1993 and was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Grammy in 2003.
She is also known for her soulful rendition of such songs as “I’d Rather Go Blind” and “All I Could Do Was Cry.”
“At Last” was sung by R&B diva Beyonce when she serenaded Barack and Michelle Obama for their first dance on inauguration night in January 2009, after his election as president.
Written in 1941 by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren, “At Last” first became a hit for Glenn Miller and his orchestra and was covered by Nat King Cole before being adopted by James in 1960.