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. jay

    Etta is right, she and not Beyonce, should have sung "At Last" for the Obama's inauguration.

    February 5, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  2. P

    Etta james is no more of a legend than (insert name of person with one hit here, maybe Souljaboy?). At least beyonce writes most of her own music and has a string of #1 songs and albums.Can Etta say that? Beyonce's publishing probably makes her more in one quarter than Etta saw in her whole career.
    On top of all that, there's comments to canadians about the president that just further prove that you need to exercise your brain if you want it to keep working for you.
    And I danced to "at last" for my wedding song (my ex wife picked it). No wonder it ended in divorce...

    February 5, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  3. Lee

    What's she on?

    February 5, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  4. cheryl

    "At Last" is a 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film Orchestra Wives, starring George Montgomery and Ann Rutherford. It was first performed in the film and on record by Glenn Miller and his orchestra, vocal by Ray Eberle and Pat Friday. The song was a major hit for Miller, reaching number 14 on the Billboard pop charts in 1942, and it soon became a standard. Nat King Cole recorded it in 1957 on his number one album Love Is the Thing. In 1960, it was covered by blues singer Etta James in a performance that improvised on Warren's melody. James was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 for her rendition of the song.[1]

    Get over it. It wasn't ETTA song. She only did a rendition of the song.

    February 5, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  5. Mitchell from MS

    HA HA HA!!!!! AT last a black person who does not like Obama just because he is half black.

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

    Etta, love you girlfriend but you need to take a powder..step aside and be proud and happy your song was even chosen.

    February 5, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  7. hm

    Etta James is certainly allowed to be upset about the whole situation, but I think her comments portrayed her as a bitter old woman. Let's face it, "Beyonce" is a bigger name this day in age and attracts better attention. She did wonderfully, and Etta James should take the high road and be happy for not only Beyonce's performance, but Obama's historical inauguration.

    I found her Obama "ain't my president" comment to be very unpatriotic and juvenile.

    Overall, I am not impressed by her handling of the situation.

    February 5, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  8. Dee

    AAAHHH! Who on God's green earth cares about this?!?!?!

    February 5, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  9. reality

    If you live in this country, he's everyone's Prez. Sorry Obama haters – DEAL WITH IT.

    February 5, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  10. EVOLVE

    GET SOME REAL NEWS CNN! WHO CARES ABOUT ONE PERSON WHEN MILLIONS DON'T JOBS.

    GET REAL

    February 5, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  11. Umm...

    well, at least there are important issues to discuss, i mean, look at Etta... she isnt gonna beat up Beyonce, she may eat her tho.

    THIS ISNT NEWS!!!!!!....this has no bearing on anything, whatsoever!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:57 pm at 6:57 pm |
  12. Walt

    This just shows the ignorance of people in America. To me this is not even news. It was one song at one inaugural ball. Do we even know or care about Ronald Reagan's Ball or Jimmy Carter's? But this just gives all those who are bitter about Obama being President a chance to hop on something. Half the people siding with Ms. James could care less about her or what she thinks. Just pure ignorance.

    February 5, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  13. PaulMoATX

    Who gives a crap? The media is becoming a complete joke.

    February 5, 2009 06:58 pm at 6:58 pm |
  14. somebodystolemytwinkie

    A blogger I read went to that concert and he said she was also touching herself innapropriately throughout the whole concert. ha. I think she's losing it.

    February 5, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  15. Jorge in Wisconsin

    CAT FIGHT...LOVE IT! you own it girl FIGHT FOR WHAT IS YOURS!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  16. Samantha

    Give 'em hell Etta!!!
    Way to go girl!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  17. Mike in NYC

    Let's see....Beyonce was asked to sing, you were not. SO? Where's the fire? Sounds like Etta's not beyond JEALOUSY!!

    February 5, 2009 07:00 pm at 7:00 pm |
  18. Gilda

    I am still trying to figure out how CNN rates this as a political news story......What is the valve of this piece, thi is why I don't watch TMZ or maybe I am....maybe the letters changed to CNN- the most trusted name in the news! LOL

    February 5, 2009 07:01 pm at 7:01 pm |
  19. Sharon

    Etta James..Grow Up!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  20. Glen in Los Angeles

    Oh good LAUD, Etta!

    February 5, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  21. Anonymous

    I think obama shoudnt discriminate race ,age and talent.etta has a right to speak her mind.

    February 5, 2009 07:02 pm at 7:02 pm |
  22. Baze

    haha, too funny. Everyone is trying to cash in on Obama's popularity.

    February 5, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  23. C Spurgeon

    IS THIS NEWS??

    February 5, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  24. MsLadyFromDC

    Big joke that Beyonce is overrated... her millions of record sales and earnings prove otherwise. She is beautiful and extremely talented. Let's see how you measure up.

    If Etta was not joking, then she MUST BE jealous!

    February 5, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  25. Rick

    If he's not her President, why doesn't she get out of the country that elected him as OUR president?? That goes for everyone who basically denies the countries leadership. If they dont have loyalty to the country, LEAVE ! !

    February 5, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
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