updated 12/19/2011 AT 3:00 PM ET
•originally published 01/20/2012 AT 11:35 AM ET
Etta James, the powerful blues voice behind the chart-topping 1961 evergreen “At Last,” has died after a lengthy struggle with leukemia. She was 73.
Her longtime friend and manager, Lupe De Leon, first confirmed the news to CNN. “This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world,” De Leon said.
“She was a true original who could sing it all – her music defied category. I worked with Etta for over 30 years. She was my friend and I will miss her always.”
Because of her health concerns, James had curtailed her concerts in January 2010 to enter the hospital with a blood infection, among other ailments, including Alzheimer’s disease.
In May 2011, James was again admitted to a hospital in Riverside, Calif., with a urinary tract infection and the blood infection sepsis, her son Sametto James told Reuters at the time.
The winner of four Grammys and a 1993 inductee to the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, James was portrayed in the 2008 movie Cadillac Records by Beyoncé Knowles. Christina Aguilera also cited James as a major influence.