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. Anonymous

    All of ya'll saying Beyonce didn't do the song justice are haters. There is room for every talent to shine, and the two singers can't be compared. Beyonce is talented, no matter what you think, her bank account proves it. Its a new season, but it doesn't mean Etta was any less talented. It just means times have changed a bit. Also, I'm with the person that commented on how blacks keep other blacks down. How petty to disrespect your President over jealously. Is it really that serious? Etta should feel good that beyonce is successful since she paved the way, and she should rally behind her President and allow him to be judged on political actions versus her own feelings and disappointments!

    February 5, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  2. SLB

    February 5th, 2009 6:42 pm ET

    Etta……..dear, that is not YOUR SONG, the same one was written before you were born!!! unless you were born in the 1930s???????
    _____________________________________________________

    To Beachgirl: Um, yes Etta James was born in the 30's. She may have a case of sourgrapes but she's always been known for misbehavior as well as her voice.

    Beyonce had no business singing that song. Even Queen Latifah did a better job than Beyonce.

    February 5, 2009 07:34 pm at 7:34 pm |
  3. NolaGirl

    Who is Etta James? Must have been before my time...

    February 5, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  4. Patricia in Las Vegas

    Does she OWN the rights to that song? She sure sounds like a bitter person. If she wanted to sing, why didn't she offer? She sounds like she might be staring alzeheimers in the face????

    February 5, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  5. Justin

    She didn't even write the song. Glen Miller recorded it in 1941, she was 3 years old then. It was a Nat King Cole song in '57 too.

    February 5, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. james

    It's a sad commentary that she was neglected at her stage in live. At Last............is her song............Then again..........she was hardh towards the other girl without givibg reasons.........I don't support or Obama or any progressive socialist abortionist. He is NOT my president nor the Unborn Childs,.That's for darn sure. That said...........who gives a squat about ego's gone awry?

    February 5, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. Blue balloons

    Etta James is a has-been, most people think she's dead, she's so old.

    February 5, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  8. Dem to the End

    Oh and if Ms. James was so upset about Beyonce doing the song why did she approve of her immitating her in the movie Cadillac Records and performing the song in the movie.

    See that's what happens when you drink and do drugs to much... it kills the brain cells!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  9. Terry B.

    Oh snap... A cat fight, let me get some popcorn...

    February 5, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  10. annie - Palin 2012

    Good for Miss James!

    February 5, 2009 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  11. Mike

    Life's too short, Etta, get over it (though yours IS the best version ever). OTOH, if Obama asked Harry Connick, jr. to sing, say, "I left My Heart in San Francisco," I'd be a little ticked if I were Tony Bennett.

    February 5, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  12. Jim D. in Costa Mesa

    I voted for Obama and I am beyond happy that he's our President. That being said, it was pretty tasteless not letting Etta James sing it. President Obama shouldn't apologize for Daschle, he should apologize for this. Beyonce's got the looks, but she's no Etta James.

    If McCain and Palin had won, they could have had Hank Williams Jr. sing "At Last...I can Attack Iran".

    February 5, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  13. randy

    if i was prez i would rather have jennifer hudson serenade me over either of those two. never heard of etta james or her song lol

    February 5, 2009 07:37 pm at 7:37 pm |
  14. David Ferguson

    Maybe Etta and Rush Limbaugh can start a mutual admiration society, as both of their comments in regards to Obama are a lot of hot air spewed by self important people. Perhaps the reason she wasn't invited to sing at the inauguration is...oh, I don't know...she runs off at the mouth?

    I guess she feels Dolly Parton should whoop Whitney Houston's backside too for singing "I will always love you"?

    February 5, 2009 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  15. Miles

    Joseph February 5th, 2009 6:21 pm ET

    Whether you voted for him or not he is your President and he deserves your respect.......

    Saying hes not your President and making fun of how he looks is outright mean spirited and has no place in this country......

    ________

    I AM SORRY, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN THE LAST 8 YEARS?????

    February 5, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  16. usc.fiji

    Etta James??? Ohhhhh.........thaaaaat Etta James! I thought she was a deceased? Wow, she sure looks and sounds like it.

    February 5, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  17. Ann Leslie

    Sooo much ado about nothing. Let's focus on real issues like living a life that is pleasing to Jesus Christ who died on the cross for your sins and mine.

    February 5, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  18. Lauren

    Lou from CT February 5th, 2009 5:59 pm ET
    Etta needs to calm down – it is possible Mr Obama did not know how to get in touch with her. This is a non-issue.

    You have got to be kidding right Lou?????????

    He was the President elect at the time, he could have had someone find her in a matter of hours. He did not try, but the truth is,,, this is nothing more than tabloid news reporting.

    February 5, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  19. beatlesgirl

    Okay. A little obnoxious for James to say that Beyonce was singing HER song. Didn't James do a rendition? So isn't it not really James' song. Stupid. I agree with Dakota. Definitely crack or mental issues.

    February 5, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  20. michael

    better than brittney singing it lol

    February 5, 2009 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  21. Amanda

    BEACHGIRL-

    ETTA IS WAY OLDER THEN MY DAD AND HE WAS BORN IN 45'
    SO YEAH ETTA JAMES WOULD HAVE BEEN BORN IN THE 30's...

    Even if it is her song...she's been singing.....BEYONCE was choosen.

    ETTA CAN BITE ME.

    February 5, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  22. STFU

    Wow, so much american hate!!

    Why don't you save it for your enemies? Oh, I forgot americans are there own enemies, excuse me.

    February 5, 2009 07:40 pm at 7:40 pm |
  23. Fl wht grl

    I would expect a woman of Etta James' reknown to comport herself in a manner expected of a celebrity........ not call Beyonce out for some whoop-@. I'm disappointed.

    It doesn't matter who sang it first or who sang it better.... I would think it would have been an honor to have "her" song sung at the inauguration.

    February 5, 2009 07:41 pm at 7:41 pm |
  24. Arthur

    I thought the comment was funny and in good spirit. Is Etta the one who was on that show Touched by an Angel? Man, she lost some weight. You go gurl. But for reals, lay off of Medea, oh, I mean Etta. I think Barack needs to invite Ms. Etta to the White House. And I think somebody needs to give Ms. Etta her own reality TV show 'cus that old heifer is a trip. Talk about kicking anything at your age....heifer please. Did too much clairol get in your brain?

    February 5, 2009 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  25. AJ

    I hope Etta James is happy with this new attention she is getting. Tomorrow people will be talking about somebody else and her 15 minutes of fame will be over.
    Those comments she made were totally uncalled for. It just all sounded to me like Etta had had one drink too many and her mouth got loose and she couldn't catch it.

    February 5, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
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