Christina Aguilera helped give the four-time Grammy winner a fitting sendoff by singing James' signature song, At Last," for the hundreds of mourners at Greater Bethany Community Church in Gardena, Calif. Stevie Wonder joined up with the church choir to pay his respects to James, who passed away Jan. 20 at 73, and Al Sharpton was there to give the eulogy.
The funeral follows a public viewing on Friday where fans gathered at Inglewood Cemetery Mortuary to reminisce about the legendary singer.
Whenever I hear that song, I freeze," Donald Hicks, 67, of Inglewood told the L.A. Times about James' megahit At Last." I even pull over when it comes on."
News spread in December that the rhythm and blues singer was suffering from terminal chronic leukemia. The bleak diagnosis followed past health issues like sepsis, kidney failure, gastric bypass surgery, dementia and drug addiction. In addition, her children were involved in court proceedings to take control of James' estate away from her husband, Artis Mills, but lost.
An inspiration to generations of musicians, she was equally at home singing unadulterated blues, searing R&B and sophisticated jazz," says Times pop music writer Randy Lewis.