R&B singer Etta James hospitalized with infection

Fri Jan 29, 2010 5:05pm EST
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By Steve Gorman

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Grammy-winning R&B singer Etta James has been hospitalized for about a week near her Southern California home for treatment of various ailments, including a bloodstream infection, her son said on Friday.

The 72-year-old recording star, best known for her bluesy hit ballad "At Last," grew ill after entering a detoxification center a month ago for treatment of an addiction to painkillers and over-the-counter medicine, Donto James told Reuters.

As her condition worsened, she was moved to a nursing facility, and then to Riverside Community Hospital, near her home east of Los Angeles, he said.

"She's been in a pretty big battle," said Donto James, her eldest son.

The performer is being treated for a number of ailments, including sepsis, a potentially fatal infection spread through the bloodstream, which in her case is believed to have started from a urinary tract infection, her son said.

He said that illness may have been a recurrence of an infection that she had around the time she performed "At Last" on the ABC show "Dancing with the Stars" last April.

Donto James, who played in his mother's backing band and is CEO of an addiction-recovery home in Riverside, said his mother also is suffering from speech difficulties, the cause of which he said had yet to be pinpointed.

He believes that lingering illness may have contributed to her public outburst last year over Beyonce's performance of "At Last" at an inaugural ball for President Barack Obama. James expressed anger that someone else sang her signature song for the president.   Continued...

<p>Jazz singer and songwriter Etta James arrives as a guest at the premiere of the film "Cadillac Records" in Hollywood, California November 24, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>