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. ams

    etta is doing it for publicity. now she wants to tell beyonce not to sang the song after she praised her?

    February 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  2. jackdaddy

    Etta was on foreign soil, dissing the POTUS... shouldn't she just shut up and sing?

    February 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  3. BJ

    Its the end of the honeymoon. I like this lady.

    February 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  4. willis

    i think she needs to cool down aren't you black your supposed to be supporting him!

    February 5, 2009 05:45 pm at 5:45 pm |
  5. andra

    james, chill-out its a new day. We got this baby!!!

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  6. katie

    love it.... go ETTA. get em' .its shameful that obama would disrepect a legend like yourself and let a pop tart sing your song...if anyone knows what its like to struggle as a black woman, its you.

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  7. Donna - Los Angeles

    Etta,
    I am one of your biggest fans. I slow danced to AT LAST at many a junior high (oops, excuse me, middle school) dances. However, you don't own the song. Beyonce did a beautiful rendition and the first couple seemed to enjoy it. Oh, BTW, President Obama may have "big ears" but there is a lot going on between them. Take a deep breath and exhale.

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  8. Greg

    Sounds like someone was "hittin' the sauce".

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  9. California Girl

    Etta, Etta, Etta. Calm down. Beyonce is a child, you are a womaN. And no one will EVER sing "At Last" the way you do.

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  10. Jason in TX

    She just old and hateful, she need to get a life and quit worrying that she didnt get picked to serenade President Obama.

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  11. Patty in the CA mountains

    Etta, get over yourself....you ain't all that anymore....sure, you're a legend, but face it, there's a whole new generation of people who are aware of you and your "At Last" simply because Beyonce sang it and OUR President danced to it. I don't think you did yourself any favors with that little tantrum.

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  12. Charles Alexander

    And an old washed us singer saying Obama has big ears is news because...

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  13. Noah from Chicago

    Just when you thought CNN couldn’t run a story more meaningless…..

    BAM!!!

    They post this on the ticker!!

    I’m just playin’ CNN you know I love you

    February 5, 2009 05:46 pm at 5:46 pm |
  14. Mobius

    BRAVO! BRAVO! ETTA JAMES 2012!

    February 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  15. Molly

    I feel bad because I thought Etta James was dead. I love her music though!

    February 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  16. albert griffith

    Etta james should be ashame of her self as well as Michael Steele,well I refer to them as bootlicking Uncle Tom's that's what they are.

    February 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  17. Chris

    ETTA JAMES = LEGEND

    February 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  18. Karl

    I just lost all respect for Etta. To think, I was in the process of purchasing all of her works. Not now!

    February 5, 2009 05:47 pm at 5:47 pm |
  19. Ex-Destiny's Child Member

    Ms. Etta,

    All you had to do was go on national television and "BEG, PLEAD, GROVEL AND HAVE A DADDDY/MGR NAMED MATTHEW KNOWLES" and you would have gotten to sing to. Daddy always get what I wants! The hell with Aretha and Julia Hudson...its all about me, the booty and the weave.

    February 5, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  20. Michele

    Etta James was not the first to sing or publish this song.....maybe someone should kick her butt for using others songs!

    If you don't like Obama leave the US......who needs an old washed up women like this in our country anyway!!!

    February 5, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  21. Bindiqi

    Etta James is racist!

    Oh wait, she black.

    February 5, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  22. Bipartisanship

    O.K. radical liberals. Time for you to accuse Etta James of being a member of some vast right wing conspiracy to bring down President Obama.

    In 3, 2, 1........

    February 5, 2009 05:48 pm at 5:48 pm |
  23. Terri Evans

    President Bashing! Ridiculous and Embarrasing for Etta James, not newsworthy.

    February 5, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  24. Fred

    it's not even Etta James' song... she covered it, just as Beyonce did... sounds like sour grapes to me...

    February 5, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
  25. Afrique

    Looks like Etta knows some things most people dont know. Why would a fellow african american act like this to two of the biggest african american names of these times. Dont call her crazy. I see it as one of the few people who have their eyes open in this world. Beyonce is a robot/reptile and Obama.......I hate to say it so I wont

    February 5, 2009 05:49 pm at 5:49 pm |
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