Belfast Telegraph

Hundreds mourn Etta James at funeral

Etta James' funeral was attended by hundreds of family, famous friends and fans yesterday.

The legendary soul singer died on January 20 aged 73 after a long battle with cancer and dementia.

Reverend Al Sharpton led the service at the Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary and delivered a heartfelt eulogy.

Sharpton had the honour of meeting Etta when he was a young preacher and described her music as a "bridge of American culture that changed the culture of the world".

"Etta James helped break down the culture curtain of America before the Civil Rights Act of 1964," the BBC quoted him as saying. "She was able to get us to sing the same rhythms and melodies."

The civil rights activist also read out a note sent by US President Barrack Obama, in which he praised her contribution to "our nation's musical heritage".

Christina Aguilera and Stevie Wonder performed songs by the musical icon during the service in Los Angeles.

Christina introduced hers with an emotional speech.

"Out of all the singers that I've ever heard, she was the one that cut right to my soul and spoke to me," she said.

The pop star performed a stunning version of James' famous song At Last and was praised on Twitter and by the media for her powerful vocals. She had tweeted days earlier about how much the singer had meant to her.

"One of the greatest moments of my life... Singing with my idol, the legendary Etta James. You will be forever missed," she wrote on the social network.

Legendary artist Stevie Wonder sang three songs, including his hit Shelter In the Rain.

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