Etta James remembered as triumphant trailblazer

By Anthony McCartney/The Associated Press

LOS ANGELES — Rev. Al Sharpton says Etta James should be remembered as a woman and an artist who “turned her pain into power.”

Sharpton eulogized the rhythm and blues singer at a memorial service Saturday in which he highlighted James’ vocal talent but also her bluntness and ability to break down racial and cultural barriers.

The reverend opened his eulogy by reading a statement from President Barack Obama, who danced with the first lady to James’ well-known hit “At Last” during their inaugural ball. His statement praised her “legendary voice.”

James died Jan. 20 after battling leukemia and other ailments.

Stevie Wonder performed “Shelter in the Rain” and Christina Aguilera performed James’ signature song, bringing the hundreds of friends, family and fans gathered to celebrate James’ life to their feet.