Jamesetta Hawkins, well known as Etta James and “Miss Peaches,” died Friday from leukemia.

At Last! (1961)

James entered the limelight with her 1961 album At Last!, which featured James’ signature song with the same name. She continued her meteoric climb throughout her 50-year career and produced almost thirty albums, including The Dreamer released last November. James gained such an influence that she soon earned the moniker the “Matriarch of R&B.”

Originally singing doo-wop in the mid-50s, James changed her sound in the 60s to more traditional pop-jazz. James also explored blues, rock ‘n’ roll, soul and gospel and won six Grammys throughout her career. In 2008, Beyonce Knowles portrayed James in Darnell Martin’s Cadillac Records.

James continued to tour into 2010, but began canceling shows for health-related reasons. In that same year, James was diagnosed with leukemia and continued to struggle with dementia. James died in Riverside, California surrounded by her family.

Many consider James to be one of the most underrated singers of the twentieth century, but it’s certain she will never be forgotten.

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