CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) — People around the world are mourning the death of beloved rock-n-roll star, Tina Turner. But one Champaign woman says the 83-year-old’s death is personal.

That’s because Turner was her cousin.

Before Turner became a worldwide icon, she was a young girl growing up in Tennessee alongside her cousin, Georgella Blanden, who later settled in Champaign.

“Some people say ‘Oh, that’s not your cousin.’ I say, ‘Say what you will and may.’ I say, ‘We grew up together on the farm,'” said Blanden.

Blanden pulled out old photos of their family in the wake of Turner’s death. Her memories aren’t about the performances, the songs, or the fame. They’re about the formative years they spent together.

“She did sing, I don’t care if it was church, you wanted her to sing, she would do it. If it was blues she needed, she would sing it,” said Blanden.

But Blanden didn’t know the next time she would see her cousin in person would be the last. It was 1985 and Tina Turner was performing at the Assembly Hall, now known as the State Farm Center.

“I said let me go ahead and talk to him and introduce myself and I went over and talked to him and told him who I was. He said, “Oh yes, I’ll get you a pass backstage. I certainly will,’” said Blanden.

Blanden’s daughter, Teresa, got to be there for it.

“Next thing you know we are backstage. Meeting Tina Turner. So, it was kind of something unreal,” said Teresa Blanden.

“She was so glad to see the children and see myself because we haven’t seen each other for a long time,” said Georgella Blanden.

Blanden says they lost touch after that, but she was proud watching her cousin share her gift with the world. Then, the news came of her death.

Blanden is devastated knowing the world lost Turner or as she knew her, Anna Mae. She says even after everything Turner went through, she still found a way to both spread and receive joy. The family said Turner had colon cancer and kidney issues.

“We had wonderful years together and I thank God that we were cousins,” said Blanden.