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As the music world mourns the Friday loss of 73-year-old Etta James, singer Beyonce -- who portrayed James in 2008's Cadillac Records -- is among the first to offer her condolences.

"This is a huge loss. Etta James was one of the greatest vocalists of our time," the new mom, who welcomed Blue Ivy with husband Jay-Z January 7, wrote on her website Friday, just hours after news of James' passing broke.

In her touching blog post, Beyonce also reflected on her role as James in Cadillac Records.

"Playing Etta James taught me so much about myself, and singing her music inspired me to be a stronger artist," Beyonce said. "When she effortlessly opened her mouth, you could hear her pain and triumph. Her deeply emotional way of delivering a song told her story with no filter."

Declared Beyonce, who called the "At Last" crooner 'eternally great": "She was fearless, and had guts. She will be missed."

Losing her battle with terminal leukemia Friday at Riverside Community Hospital in Riverside, Calif., James was surrounded by her husband and two sons at the time of her passing.

"This is a tremendous loss for the family, her friends and fans around the world," her friend and manager Lupe De Leon said of James, who would have turned 74 Wednesday. "She was a true original who could sing it all -- her music defied category."