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. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia

    I stopped listening to Beyonce when she proclaimed that she makes her music for black folk.

    Being white, is thought it was absured and racist.

    February 5, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  2. Scott, Tucson

    YOU GO GIRL!

    February 5, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  3. observer1

    I think you guys are blowing this Etta James thing out of proportion. Etta James was probably only speaking "tongue in Cheek" at one of her concerts when she made her statement. I believe Etta has a high regard for Beyonce' as you show over and over again. So, why are you atempting to drive a wedge between to favorite artists??

    February 5, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  4. wireguy

    i think obama shoudnt discriminate age and talent.etta has every right to speak her mind.she felt left out.

    February 5, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  5. Glor

    Beyonce

    February 5, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  6. yasmine

    Etta dear, someone else wrote and arranged the song.. you just performed it.. and your name nor song was not even in the mainstream until that inaugural...stop being disrespectful and learn some ettiquette..

    February 5, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  7. Tom

    Who does Etta James think she is? She didn't write the song, she wasn't even the 1st to record it. Beyonce did a much better job then she ever did. Also, i'm pretty sure she's still an American citizen, so yes, President Obama is her president. She is probably just getting old and senile.

    February 5, 2009 07:06 pm at 7:06 pm |
  8. Aunt Fester

    She's like the crazy uncle you keep locked in the attic. Don't waste any time on this.

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  9. AL PHILLIPS

    I agree with ETTA. She was slapped in the face!!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  10. Barbara Campbell

    Etta James' remarks demonstrate why she wasn't invited.

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  11. T. McRae

    Its really too bad with all that's going on in our world today, something as "simple" as someone else singing a song that you once
    recorded can set you off like that. So much that you feel the need to
    verbally express yourself to the public. I do not feel you are right, I do feel you have a right to your own opinion, but as the good book says,
    "Judge not, lest ye be judged". If it ticked you off so much Ms. James, perhaps you should pray for them, and yourself too. God Bless & to God be ALL the glory!

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  12. Danny From Toronto

    Did Etta James just some how annex Canada?

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  13. Larry

    YOU GO GIRL--He soon won't be anybody's president,you are just one of the many that he is proving out not to be my president.

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  14. TulsaJoe

    The story headline refers to Etta as "Singer" and calls Beyonce by her first name only... Who's currently more famous? Obama is about the future and not the past.

    February 5, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  15. AL PHILLIPS

    Iagree with ETTA. She was royaly slapped in the face.

    February 5, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  16. Lynne - Seattle

    it's all just so sad...I just don't get the viciousness of statements like that! Maybe the President asked for Beyonce to sing...maybe not...my theory is that it was his right to ask for something like that...it was his big day. Etta James did record my favorite version of "at last"....it was beautiful! But if she wasn't invited to sing at one of the Balls...tough nuggies! And from her statement about how he isn't her President, she probably would have said no...so what's the big deal? She may need to get over herself!

    February 5, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  17. comeonenow!

    Maybe they could have sang the song together....Etta got paid I'm sure for the Cadillac tracks it's all business...

    February 5, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  18. jc

    Miss Etta, you right!

    February 5, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  19. GaMan

    Etta is a true diva... She bailed on a concert in Atlanta because of some divatude and never rescheduled. I got a refund for my tickets. I love her old recordings, but she gets no love from me for her
    foolishness. She sounds like she's doing a screentest for Real Housewives of Atlanta

    February 5, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
  20. Colin

    As a Canadian, I can honestly and proudly say "HE AIN'T MY PREZ!"

    Way to go Etta!

    You know, I find it laughable that the same people that are telling everyone to show the new president "respect" simply because he is the president are the same people who trashed George Bush and ran his name through the mud. Ah, the double standards and hypocrisy...

    February 5, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  21. Mike, Syracuse NY

    What, a black person not totally in love with Obama? Say it ain't so.

    February 5, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  22. Mike D. in San Diego

    ...and what about any of this resembles news?

    February 5, 2009 07:09 pm at 7:09 pm |
  23. Gus

    You go Etta! It would be like asking someone other than Stevie Wonder to sing, "Signed Sealed Delivered". Nevertheless, I still believe the inaugural team pulled off the greatest "party" of the century. Etta, there will be other gigs and I am sure the administration will reach out to you.

    February 5, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  24. Santa Maria

    Oh Oh....someone doesn't faint in the presence of the chosen one. Better do a miracle or bring her a bottle of water!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
  25. Gloria K., Los Angeles

    Perhaps Etta should consider congratulating Beyonce for a great job. Maybe then, she will receive an invite to perform at another celebration WITH Beyonce.

    February 5, 2009 07:10 pm at 7:10 pm |
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