February 5th, 2009
10:44 PM ET
6 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. Willis, Texas

    Ms James look GREAT! She is feeling a little OVERLOOKED!

    She should feel proud that her song is President Obama's song! Ms. James made the SONG famous and although Beyonce did a good job - it was not the ORIGINAL!!

    Ms. James, please stop complaining - you still look GREAT!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  2. Muhammad

    "Cocaine is a horrible drug" -Rick James

    February 5, 2009 06:49 pm at 6:49 pm |
  3. Obama 2.0

    Do yourself a favor, stay in Canada.

    February 5, 2009 06:50 pm at 6:50 pm |
  4. Tim in Atl

    Etta's hittin' the sauce again.

    February 5, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  5. Dave T. in San Diego

    No Etta, that actually IS your president. Are you senile or something? You didn't even WRITE that song, let alone be the first one to sing it. Is this story even news?!

    February 5, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  6. arkebo

    So Obama is not your president ? why don't you just stay in Canada ?
    sounds like sour grapes to me ! poor Etta

    February 5, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  7. DAWN

    Etta James has every right to get upset. Although she did not write the song, she became famous for it. That's like beyonce trying to take credit for Aretha Franklin's R.E.S.P.E.C.T. I have been noticing Beyonce become a bit desperate for the spotlight. Here is my theory, ever since Jennifer Hudson won an Oscar for Dreamgirls, and beyonce did not enough though she had played lead role in the film, I feel as if beyonce has been tryin to claim that award she though was hers, by starrring in Caddilac Blues (WHICH WENT NO WHERE). Maybe its just me, but it was a HISTORIC NIGHT, beyonce already performed for the inaguration concert, I would of liked to have seen and hear the Legend sing her own song, and not the diva who played the legend in the film about the legend!

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  8. Tim in Atl

    Looks like Etta's hittin' the sauce again.

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  9. bill

    I'm with Etta. Beyonce is a vapid bimbo.

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  10. Diana

    If you've ever seen Etta James in person you would know why she was not invited to sing At Last.

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  11. fearful for my country

    You tell em Etta! You go girl! Some AA's already having "buyers remorse".

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  12. Ed

    Love it!!! Seems more and more are starting to see who Osama really is. Remember, voting has consequences.....

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  13. Puzzler125

    How ridiculous! You don't hear Dolly Parton whining about Whitney Houston singing her song "I will always love you." As a matter of fact I heard her on the tonight show many years ago say, "Thank you, Whitney" because she's making money from the new version. If anything it will draw even more attention to Etta James's work and the film Cadillac Records.

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. LOL

    I didn't know Etta was alive. Now that I know, she should have definitley been the one to sing that song. Personally Beyonce's voice was an injustice for it. Still Etta shoudn't have made those comments.

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  15. kollo

    lol, does anyone else see a statement from Etta James saying that this was all taken out of context and she is proud of Obama and Beyonce'..etc etc.
    I would like to see her wiggle herself out of this one.
    Did she want to be the one up there singing that song? Shouldn't she be honored that her work was chosen to grace the moment?
    It ain't like B fubr'd teh song of anything like that.
    B actually did a very good rendition of that song.

    February 5, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  16. Bill N

    So much for aging gracefully. Sounds like another disgruntled Republican whiner. You guys lost. Get over it and straighten out the mess Bush light caused.

    February 5, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  17. Joe

    Can Obama please stop being a celebrity and start being a president already?

    February 5, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  18. Puzzler125

    Oh and by the way? Deny it if you will but he IS your President even if you didn't vote for him!

    February 5, 2009 06:53 pm at 6:53 pm |
  19. uli moolie

    Beyonce shows her intelligence during the interview when she comments about the inauguration and states she never really watched or followed it before now....so politics meant nothing to her until now...sounds just a little racy....can't stomach her anyway

    February 5, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  20. Dexter in Houston TX

    One more thing...when we hate on each other, we are only giving them what they expect of us...Etta don't be a tool!

    February 5, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  21. Richard

    Beyonce is very over-rated. It's nice to hear someone bold enough to say so. She and Jamie Foxx sank the movie Dreamgirls.

    February 5, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  22. Bob

    I think I'll watch "A Star is Born" tonight. Sounds like she's just another faded old star who's a bit too full of herself. It was Obama's inaugural ball – not hers.

    February 5, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  23. Jamerson

    First, James knows the English language. She has been a pivotal entertainer for may decades–that much is clear and irrefutable. As for the notion of being a has been, does anyone really think that having Beyonce singing the song that has become an iconic soul hit–just like "Tell Mama"? Please.

    I think this whole situation was a clear insult to Etta James. Before last year when Beyonce first appeared on the screen and the song appeared in the movie soundtrack, Etta James was (for that matter still is) the woman to sing "At Last." By the way, I think the media forgot that she was QUITE diffident about Beyonce's portrayal because I remember an interview, where she said basically sounded quite uninspired about the whole movie role.

    Who in their right mind considered Beyonce for that role–she didn't even look like Etta James nor physically appeared like her. If she wanted to do a good job, she should have gone the route of Charlize Theron and actually took on the role–but no, she had to doll herself up for this yet another media blitz.

    Tactful or not, she has every right to criticize the president, we all do. Just because Americans vote for (or even against a candidate) does not mean that we can't attack anyone. He's a public person and he's now public domain, so she can really say what she wants. As for that little comment about mistakenly asking Canadians, it you actually read the statement, she was actually using extended sarcasm. Remember, if you are president, criticism (whether moderate, biting, or harsh) comes with the territory.

    February 5, 2009 06:54 pm at 6:54 pm |
  24. Murray Rizberg

    Whatever

    February 5, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  25. payback

    "At last", etta james, has lost her diva driven, senile mind...........Out with the old in with the new.......................

    February 5, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
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