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Beyonce Knowles Styles Etta James

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With A Double-Album, A World Tour, Starring Roles In Two Movies And Several Ad Campaigns In the Works, The Heat Is On For Beyonce

On a brisk March day in Rahway, N.J., Beyonce and Adrien Brody are filming a crucial scene for their upcoming movie Cadillac Records. The set is an old Ukranian social club that has been converted into a 1950s production studio, complete with vintage instruments and cream, perforated walls. Musicians, dressed in porkpie hats and carrying rusted saxophones, mill around the room atop a grey and rose pink tiled floor.

Dressed in an off-the-shoulder blue brocade dress, teal earrings, long black eyelashes and a frosted blonde wig, Beyonce is channeling the fiery Etta James. Brody is playing Chess Records founder Leonard Chess in the film based on the '50s blues label that released such greats as James and Muddy Waters. Beyonce, as James, is about to perform “I'd Rather Go Blind" with her band when Brody, as Chess, interrupts. Rumor has it that Chess and James had a romantic relationship that never flowered because of circumstance, and Brody and Beyonc are doing a good job of depicting that sexual tension.

Cadillac Records hits theaters Dec. 5, two weeks after Beyonce s double-album I Am . . . Sasha Fierce from Music World/Columbia Records hits shelves Nov. 18. It will be the singer's third solo album and the first since she adopted a bit of James' classic flair. “Doing Cadillac Records, I realized that Etta James was so unapologetic, bold and strong that playing her was a big risk for me," Beyonce says. “It gave me the confidence and the push to challenge myself a little more with my music."

ICON IN THE WORKS

It's a good time for Beyonc to be brave. On I Am . . . Sasha Fierce, the singer capitalizes on her established R&B fan base while stretching her pop music wings with radio-friendly tracks that she describes as “timeless."

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