February 5th, 2009
10:44 PM ET
5 years ago

Singer disses Obama, Beyonce

Beyonce and James together at the Cadillac Records premiere.
Beyonce and James together at the Cadillac Records premiere.

(CNN) - The entertainment world may be in a swoon over Barack Obama, but one legendary soul singer is fuming at the new president and the pop star who serenaded the first couple on inauguration night.

Etta James, famous for her rendition of the song “At Last,” is apparently miffed that pop star Beyonce was tapped to perform the ballad as the president and first lady slow-danced during the Neighborhood Inaugural Ball on January 20.

“You guys know your president, right?” the singer asked an audience in Canada last week, according to audio posted on TMZ.com. “You know the one with big ears? Yeah, wait a minute. He ain’t my president.”

She then went after Beyonce: “That woman singing for him, singing my song? She’s gonna get her ass whipped.”

James added that she “can’t stand Beyonce” and that the starlet “has no business up there singing, singing up there on a big old President day, singing my song that I been singing forever.”

But is James flip-flopping on Beyonce? She did not raise an objection when the singer portrayed her in the film “Cadillac Records” - and just recently, James’s son told a New York paper that his mother was moved by the inauguration night performance.


Filed under: Extra • President Obama
soundoff (681 Responses)
  1. Post-Menopausal?

    Wow, what a bitter, dejected old has-been of a woman. Clearly she's driven by jealousy and envy, not to mention probably menopause. She didn't even write that song… it wasn't enough for her that she was inducted into the hall of fame for covering it? I wonder if Miller and Nat King Cole should come after her for singing "their" song, using her hypocritical logic. Get over yourself Etta, and stay away from that buffet table.

    February 5, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. hairdw@aol.com

    Not a fan of either one, but Etta's version was better and its clear that she was insulted by Obama by not being invited to sing this song. Boyonce( Sasha Fierce???) will never be a legend.

    February 5, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  3. Rusty

    Sorry – the current President of the United States will get my respect when he earns it. Nominating tax cheats and lobbiests to serve in the most "ethical" White House in history shows what a joke Obama is.

    Good for you, Etta.

    February 5, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  4. Donna

    Etta gave up the right to criticize anyone when she gave up the rights to the song for drug money during her "addiction" years..and why would they ask her to sing for the President (who she obviously doesn't like)?

    Beyonce is a younger, pretty POPULAR singer..Etta is a bitter, has been who probably couldn't sing the song nowadays anyway..just because she is a "legend" doesn't mean that everyone's eardrums have to be damaged in order for her to have her 15 mins of tv time...

    February 5, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  5. opedanderson

    Poor woman. She dared say anything negative about The New Messiah......

    Boy she is going to get it from all of the Koolaid Suicide Pact Obama Fanatics now!

    Anyone who utters even the smallest criticism are subject to the same.....

    February 5, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  6. Mark

    James is getting old, losing her mind.

    February 5, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  7. ShadyFacts

    Glenn Miller recorded the song first. THEN Nat King Cole. THEN Etta James. So she's a hypocrit.

    However, CNN got it wrong, and it clears up the whole Canadian hoopla...Ms. James made the comment to an audience in SEATTLE. As in Washington. As in USA. CNN misquoted TMZ.

    February 5, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  8. Don

    Not a fan of either one, but Etta's version was better and its clear that she was insulted by Obama by not being invited to sing this song. Boyonce( Sasha Fierce???) will never be a legend.

    February 5, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  9. me

    The whole thing is probably chopped and screwed because that's how the media want's to portray things. All they want to do is get everyone all hype for nothing. This whole situation does not deserve any more energy. A situation is only what you give it!

    February 5, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  10. Linda

    1. she was not talking President Obama unless he's the Prime-Minister of Canada and the last time i checked Canada was not part these United States.
    2. CNN taking News from TMZ is very tacky. If i want gossip i know where to go.
    3. If the President of the These United States is not her President than she needs to move.

    February 5, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  11. Fan

    Etta is just a drug-addict who wants attention on anything..poor old lady!! she needs a hug..

    February 5, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  12. ANGIE-OH

    Oh plz Ms James. calm down. Since he is not your president, does that mean you didn't vote for him? If that is true, it's no wonder he didnt ask you to sing. So she sang "AT LAST" and it was done beautifully. So thank you for making it possible. It was a beautiful night.

    February 5, 2009 06:39 pm at 6:39 pm |
  13. rachel

    Etta your funny

    February 5, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  14. silverbeatle

    We all know she didn't write the song "At Last", but its still her song... she made that song. Its like you bought a car and you own that car, but you didn't make the car, but you still own that car. But still, what she commented on Beyonce is not lady like, even with her legendary stature.
    Its better to burn out, than fade away.

    February 5, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  15. swach

    ette is a big turd

    February 5, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  16. DTruth3T

    If true what a sad statement. Why do we (Afro-Americans) attack each other loke this. Both of these " LADYS " have been blessed with the gift of voice. There just in two different GENERATIONS. There's no need for comparasions. Please le t US ALL RISE above this type of CHILDISH behavior. No one profits except those who continues to print this nonsense. Looks like the spirit of " WILLIE LYNCH " is very much alive in the " 09 ."

    February 5, 2009 06:40 pm at 6:40 pm |
  17. Carrie

    Etta James is just white hot jealous because Beyonce's version of "At Last", her song, was infinitely BETTER than hers. Sorry, Etta, but your fifteen minutes of fame are up and now someone more talented and prettier has come to replace you in fame and fortune. Picking on Obama is just mean, he never did anything to you and you just are lashing out. The man is handsome, and you are probably the only person in the US who can't see that because your judgment is clouded. Jealousy sure is an ugly, ugly thing.

    February 5, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  18. Tony

    Another entertainment industry ego! Most of them were nobodies who got lucky. Then their fame goes to their heads and they think they're gods or something. Who is she compared to any President?

    February 5, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  19. Steve R

    It's OK to get old, but not bitter, Wise up Etta

    February 5, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  20. Joan

    What is wrong with people !!!! Ett needs to grow up – it is quite sad to see an adult act this way. .

    I am sure that she has lost a lot of respect .

    As for implying that Obama is "not her President" I would feel ashamed of her if I was an American citizen.

    February 5, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  21. libby

    Some of you Obama thugs in here are "NEVER WHERES" so just step back and continue drinking the Koolaid.

    Etta says it right ... she sang it ... she should have sung it at the ball ... anyway she said this right too ..." He aint my prez!"

    Say it sister!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:41 pm at 6:41 pm |
  22. Alex

    Can you say jealous?

    February 5, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  23. beachgirl

    Etta........dear, that is not YOUR SONG, the same one was written before you were born!!! unless you were born in the 1930s???????

    how many face lifts are we talking about????????

    February 5, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  24. Pam Holt Los Angeles, CA

    Anyone with any sense would rather hear Etta sing it than Beyonce. I would sympathize with Etta more if she wrote it and it was used without her permission though. Her cover of the song IS the most successful/famous/popular. I wish the Obamas would have asked her to perform it for them. But sorry Etta, if you're an American, then President Obama IS your president.

    February 5, 2009 06:42 pm at 6:42 pm |
  25. TexasJonSlobber

    Remember Duane Allman !

    February 5, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
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