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. Amy

    What a hypocrite!!! Etta was the THIRD person to sing that song and NO, she did not write it either. Was this one last ditch effort to see her name ANYWHERE in the media?? So sad.

    February 5, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  2. Chloe

    Etta James had no business saying what she said. Beyonce' did ok. Etta was great back in her day, but Celine Dion should have been chosen to sing that song in my opinion. Has anyone ever heard her rendition of At Last?. Beautiful.

    February 5, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  3. Nathan DeMay

    Why can't people-especially people in the spotlight-be civil?

    February 5, 2009 06:43 pm at 6:43 pm |
  4. ALICE BROADWAY

    ETTA,ETTA,ETTA.DO YOU HERE YOURSELF ? YOU R TO OLD TO ACT AND SAY SUCH THINGS. JEALOUSY DOES LOOK GOOD ON U. BESIDES LIKE D OLD SAYING GOES , IF YOU BEAT UM THEN JOIN UM

    February 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  5. Brian

    It's called dementia.

    February 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  6. Joseph, Los Angeles

    I guess she wanted to be the singer at that performed for the President and the First Lady. But geeze-louise... why is she so bitter?

    February 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  7. Shame on YOU!!!

    Etta James you should be ashame of yourself Bashing President Obama...FYI At Last was 1st performed by Glenn miller ,Nat King Cole in 1957 and You in 1961........President Obama did not organize any of the Events*** You owe Beyounce an apology you to old to act like t hat....I know you are old enough to remember what happento Eartha Kitt for disrespecting Lady Bird Johnson
    FYI-In 1968, Miss Kitt's career took a sudden turn when, at a White House luncheon hosted by Lady Bird Johnson, she spoke out against the Vietnam War. For years afterward, Miss Kitt was blacklisted in the U.S. and was forced to work abroad where her status remained

    February 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  8. Cynthia Georgandis

    What a disrespectful, bitter old lady!

    February 5, 2009 06:44 pm at 6:44 pm |
  9. niun

    Finally someone who isn't drinking the kool -aid! Tells it like it is!

    February 5, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  10. Arnold

    ETTA – you HAD the voice. Listen to ourself now then listen to Beyonce. I would pay a thousand to see Beyonce sing but never pay a $10 to see you sing.

    February 5, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  11. Brian

    By the way, the Republicans crack me up these days. How are those straws you're grasping at, GOP? Entertaining? Having a good time? Enjoy having Rush Limbaugh represent you. You deserve it.

    February 5, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  12. Patrick

    This just in: "I just had a ham sandwich for lunch."

    Based on the article I just read I think CNN should consider this as top billing on your headline news report tonight.

    Who wrote this article? 3rd graders have better writing skills. It makes me scared that people use CNN for news.

    February 5, 2009 06:45 pm at 6:45 pm |
  13. Lynnette

    Jealousy, rear my ugly head.

    February 5, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  14. Marcus

    Etta might be ignorant & silly, but she certainly is rather ugly !!

    February 5, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  15. too funny!

    Oooooh, someone's jealooouuuussssss.

    February 5, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  16. Dakota

    Etta has either mental health issues or is on crack. I heard what she said, and the woman did not sound coherant. Beyonce did a wonderful job singing for OUR President and First Lady.

    Etta should be ashamed of herself, and maybe somebody needs to give her a GPS-Map, because its obvious she doesnt know where shes at...SAD

    February 5, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  17. Big dee of MD

    If I had a song that I was known all over the world for singing for over fifty years... I too would be offended I was not asked to sing it for the new President on inaugration nite.

    Keep in mind Beyonce is overrated! There are many other black singers that blow her out of the water.... But they say she has that appealing cross over "look"...

    February 5, 2009 06:46 pm at 6:46 pm |
  18. Sabrina

    bitter.

    February 5, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  19. Dexter in Houston TX

    CNN you know i love you, but please tell me should this be under "The Political Ticker?" C'mon this is Showbiz garbage and the fact that you scooped this from TMZ ...well, it's just sad!

    February 5, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  20. Terrance

    You would think that someone of her stature would encourage Beyoncé to become legend like she is. Oh and CNN, why the hell is this news?

    February 5, 2009 06:47 pm at 6:47 pm |
  21. Average Black Guy

    libby, you sound like you got lost on your way to the kitchen. Obama is your president, and no, Limbaugh is not your president

    February 5, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  22. CD

    Who care what she thinks?

    February 5, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  23. MARYANN ILLINOIS

    GO ETTA!!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  24. Thomas

    Pam Holt, I'm sure you respected Bush as your president, right?

    February 5, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  25. Rick in WA

    I find the comments interesting that say that Obama is our President even if we didn't vote for him. I seem to remember "not my President" being the Democrats mantra the past few years. You can't have it both ways.

    February 5, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
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