01/20/2012 06:11 pm ET

Etta James Remembered, In Her Own Words

Singer Etta James died Friday at age 73 after battling leukemia and dementia, the New York Times reports. She was best known for her hit song "At Last," which Beyonce covered at Barack Obama's inaugural ball, much to James's displeasure. Beyond the blues she sang about publicly, James, born in 1938 to 14-year-old Dorothy Hawkins, had her own demons. She battled drug addiction and struggled with weight issues, according to the Times.

The young James was raised largely by foster parents, and in the opening lines to her 1995 biography, "Rage To Survive," co-authored with David Ritz, the singer wrote: "I had two mothers, two childhoods, lived two very different lives in two different cities. Maybe that's why I became two different people."

The quotes below further reveal James' sense of having dual identities -- passionate about music and shy on stage, confident in her voice but insecure about her body, ambitious but unsure there was a place for her -- or any woman -- at the top. Here she is, Etta James in her own words.

SLIDESHOW: 9 Quotes From Etta James