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Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder perform at Etta James funeral

Stevie Wonder performs at the funeral for Etta James, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, at Greater Bethany Community Church City of Refuge in Gardena, Calif. / Etta James performs during the 2006 New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival in New Orleans on Saturday, April 29, 2006. / Christina Aguilera performs at the funeral for Etta James, Saturday, Jan. 28, 2012, at Greater Bethany Community Church City of Refuge in Gardena, Calif. (Ringo H.W. Chiu / Jeff Christensen)

January 28, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
Family, friends and fans gathered for an emotional farewell to legendary rhythm and blues singer Etta James on Saturday.

The Rev. Al Sharpton eulogized James in a rousing speech, describing her remarkable rise from poverty and pain to become a woman whose music became an enduring anthem. He opened his remarks by reading a statement from President Barack Obama.

"Etta will be remembered for her legendary voice and her contributions to our nation's musical heritage," Obama's statement read.

Christina Aguilera and Stevie Wonder performed at the funeral service, which was held at City of Refuge Church in Gardena.

James was most famous for her rendition of "At Last." She won four Grammy awards, including a lifetime achievement honor, but it's her heart that loved ones will remember most.

"One thing about my mother is that she would pick up anybody to work for her," said son Donto James. "You know most of the young men that had lost their mothers or their families, you know they'd come by, they'd be friends of my brother's or mine, and she'd give them a job, just like that."

The Grammy-winning singer died Jan. 20 after battling leukemia and other ailments, including dementia. She was 73.

See photos of Etta James throughout the years.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.


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