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. JAMES

    MS ETTA,SHE JUST SANG IT TO HONOUR THE NEW PRESIDENT.WHAT IS THE BIG DEAL ABOUT THAT.SHE DID NOT COPY IT IN HER ALBUM.PLEASE, GIVE HER AND THE PRESIDENT A BREAK.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 07:59 pm at 7:59 pm |
  2. DeLois McEady

    I say don't hate the player hate the game.

    February 5, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  3. steve r.

    Etta: This is not your song, you didn't write it so whats your beef? You did sing a Rendition of the song in the past, but what gives you the right to complain? You are a singer of the past and Beyonce is a star now. GET OVER IT GIRL!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  4. Lynn

    To Arthur: No Etta James was not on Touch By An Angel....that was Della Reese. :)

    February 5, 2009 08:00 pm at 8:00 pm |
  5. Simmy

    I know that President Obama would never overlook anyone. I think it was more the producers putting the program together, & Beyonce making her case over and over. To the point where they caved in and put her on the program. Her husband was on the program, but she was inserted at close to the last minute. It would have been nice to hear Etta sing her song. But after she bashed my President, I don't know.

    February 5, 2009 08:01 pm at 8:01 pm |
  6. girlygirl1

    Etta is 71 yrs old. She was born in 1938. "At Last" was written in l941 by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren for the musical film, "Orchestra Wifes". It was originally performed by Glenn Miller,then Nat King Cole recorded it in 1957. It wasn't until l960 that Etta James sang it and it became her 'signature song'.
    She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999 for it.
    Since it was written/released it has been performed by more than 20 singers/groups,and it was even used in the trailer for Wall-E. She does not own the rights to it. Her version seemed to be the most
    popular, but it is not her song. I love her 1960s version – it's my favorite also.
    People need to check the facts before they go bashing others
    (on either side of the issue). It's the american thing to do.
    This is also a free country. She can choose to be offended, and they can choose to have someone else sing it. Get over it!

    February 5, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  7. wanda

    That overrated TALENTLESS HACK! She's not even in the same league as Etta James and never will be. Etta is from the generation where there wasn't mixing and studio magic making you sound good. Etta can actually sing, imagine that people!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:02 pm at 8:02 pm |
  8. kemihotep

    Beyonce' sux and Mrs. James is wrong for acting up in another country. She might have just written herself off!! I hope she has made a lot of money...cause she might be out of work real soon!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:03 pm at 8:03 pm |
  9. Joel Miller

    Etta James is a great, great artist but the song isn't hers it was written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren and covered by a lot of artists. And that's the way the music flows. New people cover old songs, new songs are written from old songs and old songs inspire new artists.

    February 5, 2009 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  10. coolguy

    Was Etta ever a legend? maybe before my dad was born...Beyonce certainly is.. Check the records folks!

    February 5, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  11. cityoffun

    Etta looks like Fats Domino in drag. What is up with the j-lo hair?

    February 5, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  12. Phil

    I listened to the video and she in fact did *not* diss Obama. For whatever reason CNN throws Obama's name onto the end of anything and everything and it's kind of annoying. She simply griped about Beyonce singing her song.

    This is like the transcription error that had written Obama as saying something he (according to video proof) did not say about Jessica Simpson. What was the CNN headline? "Did Obama insult Jessica Simpson for being fat?" They already knew the answer, so why ask the question?

    February 5, 2009 08:06 pm at 8:06 pm |
  13. Tallulah, La.

    It would have been better if Etta James had sung the song at another venue; not the "young people's ball." I like Beyonce, and it seems like everyone is blaming her, even though someone had to invite her to perform. Etta James is older and probably had a "senior moment." I really hope that was the case.

    February 5, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  14. JB

    I had to laugh at this. I mean there are people everyday LOSING THEIR JOBS,HOME ETC. This is a waste of time don't you think???

    February 5, 2009 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  15. fh

    I'm with you Etta. Obama is not my president either! And just look at the mess he is already making of everything! That guy is not ready for the job.

    February 5, 2009 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  16. Michael

    Etta James is one sad, bitter, irrelevant woman...

    February 5, 2009 08:09 pm at 8:09 pm |
  17. Wil1936

    Big D of md

    All comments made sense until you had to talk about race.
    What difference does it make about the race?
    Grow uf and get a life.

    February 5, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  18. Brenda Richardson-Brown

    I think you ought to be ashamed of yourself Ms James. There we go again trying to pull each other down as a race again. Don't the white man do enough of that for us without we doing it to ourselves? So what if Beyonce sang your song that you made popular. Like I said, you made it popular and who can forget that? Why? Why? Why? are we always so jealous of each other. We don't have to worry about the white man tearing us down. As I said before, we do enough of it to oureselves

    February 5, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  19. just dallas

    The media loves to instigate.about any and everything.

    February 5, 2009 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  20. bdub

    move over Etta your time is over.

    February 5, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  21. suze

    Ummmmm.......She was in Canada and asked if they knew their president??? Can anyone say alzheimers?

    February 5, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  22. Tony Segura

    Atta James is being payed to betray the new president by claiming that her song has been stolen. It wouldn't suprise me that Rush Amedineajad Limbaugh is behind all this fiasco. I finally tuned in to his afternoon radio show and he and all his listening audience are phycotic and are dangerous to upcoming youngsters. These millions of followers have been infiltrated and want Obama and the the USA to fail.

    February 5, 2009 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  23. Pen

    I'm sorry to hear Etta go off on Beyonce. She needs to accept that it's Beyonce's turn. I think Beyonce did a nice job-–of course she will never be an Etta James. At Last lasted all those years because of Etta's interpretation (which Beyonce basically immitated).

    February 5, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  24. chris

    porky pig jealous singer, go home but leave the ball, you cannot play anymore

    February 5, 2009 08:12 pm at 8:12 pm |
  25. No Hillary = No Obama

    Don't you know Obama has to keep his hip and cool image and Etta somehow did not reflect the tinsel Obama needs.

    February 5, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
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