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. Arturo of SLO

    Please, this is not even news worthy.

    February 5, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  2. Diana

    Etta, that was wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give me a break. Beyonce justed wanted to do something nice and be a part of history!!! Did you asked to ge involved is this history making event.

    February 5, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  3. Celeste

    We need to embrace the next generation along with their ideas and their energy. Ms. James...remember imitation is the sincerest form o flattery. Beyonce honored you with that song. Please allow us to have fond memories of your career and simply say "well done" to a younger version of you.

    February 5, 2009 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  4. mel

    That song doesn't belong to her. Nat King Cole sing that song long before she did. I think there was another person who did that song before Nat King Cole. That Lady is just jealous of Beyonce. Go get a life and write your own song before you start something you don't have the age or the money to win.

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

    Libby,

    Way to be rude! What's with the Koolaid comment? Obama thugs? Who do you think you are? This is the 21st century, and not a time to be making prejudice comments.

    If you don't like that Obama is our President, why don't you just move to another country? It's a win-win situation. You will be under a leadership you want and America will have one less prejudice person.

    February 5, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  6. Gene

    I don't care how mad Emma James gets.. Beyonce can sing anything she wants for me anytime :)

    February 5, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  7. Juliet Aigbe

    Haba! Rusty, Obama chose the people he did for their expertise and experience to bail you out and give you a stimulus package, he wasnt looking for infallible saints to oil his ego, 'cuz it's the economy stupid!'
    As for Ms James, it's time for you old folks to get up and be the younger generation's cheerleaders and not their task masters!

    February 5, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  8. Christian

    Etta's right but she didn't articulate herself well. Her point is: if you can have the legend sing it, why get the newbie? Etta can still sing this, so it's a further insult.

    Also, Beyonce did this partly to promote her film, (for which she also produced), so having Beyonce do this to plug her movie cheapens the inauguration somewhat by making it also about her bottom line.

    February 5, 2009 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  9. Diana

    Etta, that was wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give me a break. Beyonce justed wanted to do something nice and be a part of history!!! Did you asked to ge involved is this history making event. How dare you talk about all of ours president tat way!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm apalled by your words!!!!!!!!! Grow up!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:45 pm at 7:45 pm |
  10. Jude

    Ate'a james – sounds like she ate'a some sour lemons and it's her loss. She could have made a big statement saying how wonderful it was that Beyonce sang her song, and get her agency to re-release her song and take advantage of free positive publicity. Instead she looks like a crazy mean nasty woman who once did a fine job of singing a song – many years ago. Too bad, her loss.

    February 5, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  11. Reeny21030

    Etta did a beautiful job on that song, in fact I have it on my Ipod as we speak. But she does not have it like she used to. I have heard her sing a few years ago, and she just don't have it. While I am not a big Beyonce fan, I don't see where it would make sense to have Etta sing to the younger folks, she would be out of place.

    Etta needs to have some respect, common sense, and etiquette, and take her old backside somewhere and chill or get laid or something.

    February 5, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  12. Rockster

    Ole Etta should be happy that her song was chosen and give the youth a time to shine. New president New performer... Out with the old and in with the new. She should be more honored then to lash out for publicity....

    February 5, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  13. Anonymous

    "“You guys know your president, right?” the singer asked an audience in Canada last week"

    Ummm.... Eta, canada is a different country, don't you know?

    February 5, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  14. Jax

    Etta James is a National Treasure point blank. It was very disrespectful of all parties involved not to include her in the singing of "At Last" for the Presidential Inaugural Ball. It would be one thing if she were deceased or incapacitated and could not perform the song, but the fact that she is still touring and performing the song, made it disrespectful. It may have been written before Etta was born, but Etta James is the one who definitely made it famous! I have no problem with Beyonce singing for the President, she just didn't need to sing THAT song, or at the very least, she could have done a duet with Ms. James.

    February 5, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  15. Lesa

    For all of you who said that PRESIDENT Barack Obama is not your president. Guess again! Unless of course you live on MARS or some other planet. But if you breath air in the U.S.A. on a daily basis- you got him like it or not. So deal with it.
    As far as Beyonce singing 'At Last". I am not a fan of Beyonce, but Etta James did not write the song. She covered it just like 100's of other people. She needs to get over it and stop hatin.

    February 5, 2009 07:46 pm at 7:46 pm |
  16. GOODGRIEF

    Never heard of Etta until this story. She is just a jealous old witch. Beyonce has a better voice than she ever had. And what she said about the president, well who gives a rip about her opinion anyway. YOU GO BEYONCE AND YOU GO PRESIDENT OBAMA!

    February 5, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  17. Chris

    Etta James really does need to get over it. Stop hate'n. This hole not my president BS is exactly as i said.... BS! If you are US citizen he is your prez. You don't like it.... leave! So ungrateful....

    February 5, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  18. Krissy

    It is so disappointing to hear her being so petty and jealous. She did not write the song, it isn't "hers". Beyonce just did her job and sang beautifully. Threatening violence against someone is just tacky and unrespectable. No matter what your thoughts are on Beyonce, Etta really sank below the floor with this behavior.

    February 5, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  19. suzyku

    This woman needs to retire NOW! What an idiot.

    February 5, 2009 07:47 pm at 7:47 pm |
  20. VOTE FOR MSNBC

    WHO CARES CNN? AMERICANS ARE LOOSING JOBS....EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS IS MORE THAN 600,000 IN JANUARY.

    BEYONCE MADE ABOUT 160 MILLION DOLLARS with JAYZ last year. WHO CARES WHO CARES WHO CARES.

    CNN IS JUNK

    February 5, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  21. Perusing-Through

    Dear Etta James,

    1.) – First playback your own words and listen to them with keen ears.
    2.) – Next, stand in the mirror and take a good look at yourself.

    Now explain to me why on the most historic "Inauguration Day" since George Washington first swore in, , , , explain to me why you think your tired old @@@ should be swooning this young beautiful couple on a night filled with glitter, ambiance, and happiness.

    February 5, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  22. Ronnie Patrick

    Etta James get a life. For God sake Obama has no control over who sings your song. If you want to blow a lid do it with Beyonce. Obama has other issues beside your old song that has been around since the birth of my mother who would have been 88 years old this year. That song as been around for many, many years because I have it on a 78 record which is about the size of your entire body.I mean the record is big so that should tell you how old the record is. Obama need to get all this mess streighten out and he is not about to deal with small foolishness such as an old woman's recording that he is to young to know just who made the record. Obama has probably never heard of you Etta James until now. Get a life please for who cares anyway but you. You poor silly woman.

    February 5, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  23. Mike

    Nobody can beat Beyonce–she's so talented. I love how she uses so much repetition in her song–AHH LEMME LEMME UPGRADE (sarcasm). From a generation obsessed with Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake, is anyone surprised we are pumping out garbage like Beyonce and Obama.

    February 5, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  24. 2malamutes

    Etta James is still alive?
    Who knew?

    February 5, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
  25. Joe in NJ

    "Carrie February 5th, 2009 6:41 pm ET

    Etta James is just white hot jealous because Beyonce's version of "At Last", her song, was infinitely BETTER than hers. Sorry, Etta, but your fifteen minutes of fame are up and now someone more talented and prettier has come to replace you in fame and fortune. "

    This is what happens when you smoke too much crack.

    February 5, 2009 07:48 pm at 7:48 pm |
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