After battling various ailments — dementia, kidney problems, and leukemia — for the last several years, legendary blues singer Etta James died at 73 Friday.
James's fans conveyed their regards in online posts and Beyoncé was among them. "This is a huge loss," the singer said in a statement posted on her website. "Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time. I am so fortunate to have met such a queen. Her musical contributions will last a lifetime."
Beyoncé had a special connection to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee, having performed a number of tributes to the "At Last" singer over the years.
Beyoncé portrayed James in the 2008 film "Cadillac Records," which chronicled the life of music executive Leonard Chess and the artists signed to his label, Chess Records. Playing the tough, boisterous, and sometimes profane James forced Beyoncé to step outside of her comfort zone.
"Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist," she said about her performance, which won critical praise. "When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear the 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."
Beyoncé also had an opportunity to serenade James with "At Last" at Live Fashion Rocks 2008. Before taking the stage, Beyoncé read a moving introduction about James's impact and closed it by extending personal thanks. Wearing a short-cropped platinum wig reminiscent of James's signature style, the contemporary R&B pop singer embodied James's spirit on stage. James was visibly moved when Beyoncé walked into the audience to sing directly to her.
Beyoncé received even more accolades when she sang "At Last" the following January for President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama's first dance at the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball.
Set apart on a miniature stage amid the audience, Beyoncé set the tone, again doing justice to James's classic passionate love song.
Neighborhood Inaugural BallDespite Beyoncé's friendly rapport with James, the late singer expressed disappointment with the former Destiny's Child frontwoman singing her song for the president. A few weeks after the celebration, James lashed out at Beyoncé during a performance in Seattle.
Ironically, the day after the inaugural performance, James's son Donto said his mother actually liked the rendition. "She thought it was great," he told the New York Daily News.
Based on Beyonce's reaction to James's passing, the young superstar, who just had her first child, Blue Ivy, with husband Jay-Z has not held onto any potential hard feelings.
Yahoo! Music joins all of James's fans and sends our condolences to her family and friends. On another somber note, the wife of smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G. has filed for divorce.
But there's still some good news this week, especially for those who love reality TV music shows. "X Factor" viewers will be excited to know that judge L.A. Reid has signed a number of contestants to recording deals with Epic Records. Plus, the premiere singing competition "American Idol" made its return this week. Lastly, pop singer-songwriter Bruno Mars might have the most reasons to be happy as his pending drug charges were dropped.
Check out the links before for more info on this week's stories. See you next week.
THIS WEEK'S TOP 5 MUSIC NEWS STORIES
1) The Blues -- Etta James dies at 73.
2) Epic Signings -- L.A. Reid signs "X Factor" contestants.
3) Drop It Like It's Hot -- Bruno Mars cleared of drug possession charges.
4) Now Auditioning -- "American Idol" returns.
5) Saxophone Solo -- Kenny G's wife files for divorce.