Singer Etta James breathing on her own again

LOS ANGELES Sat Dec 31, 2011 12:41am GMT

Jazz singer and songwriter Etta James arrives as a guest at the premiere of the film ''Cadillac Records'' in Hollywood, California, in this November 24, 2008 file photograph. James has been hospitalized with blood poisoning, her son said on May 13, 2011. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files

Jazz singer and songwriter Etta James arrives as a guest at the premiere of the film ''Cadillac Records'' in Hollywood, California, in this November 24, 2008 file photograph. James has been hospitalized with blood poisoning, her son said on May 13, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fred Prouser/Files

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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Soul singer Etta James, who is terminally ill with leukaemia, has been taken off a respirator and is breathing on her own again, her friend and manager said on Friday.

Lupe De Leon said the "At Last" singer, 73, is soon expected to leave the intensive care unit of a hospital near her home in Riverside, east of Los Angeles.

"The hospital is preparing Etta for release from ICU to a step down unit. She is stable and breathing on her own. Her blood pressure is normal," De Leon said.

James was admitted to the hospital last week because she was struggling to breathe. She has been in failing health for several years and suffers from leukaemia, kidney disease and dementia but had previously been cared for at her Southern California home.

Her live-in doctor said earlier in December that James was considered terminally ill, and that she communicates mostly with nods and simple words. The three-time Grammy Award singer earlier battled obesity and was addicted to heroin for many years.

James was a key figure in the early days of R&B music with hit songs like "The Wallflower" and "Good Rockin' Daddy". But it was her 1961 recording of the ballad "At Last" that put her on the map.

(Reporting by Jill Serjeant; Editing by Piya Sinha-Roy)

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