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. Brian

    Another washed up personality trying to grab the lime light. Just be glad you've had a good life as an entertainer and be happy for the first couple on a hard fought election.......and CNN...get a life for reporting this crap.

    February 5, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  2. Don

    She didn't write the song.
    Why are we reporting on a one hit wonder?

    February 5, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  3. Sowega

    Did you really say Celine Dion should've sang that song? You just trying to start something ain't you. I KNOW you don't really think Celine Dion is worth listening to for more than 30 seconds at a time, no more than twice a year. More than that and I'd have to swear off radio.

    February 5, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  4. Luke

    Dear CNN,

    This is not political news. In fact, it's not news at all. If publishing stories like this is the only way for you to get readership, then journalism really is on the brink of collapse.

    Sincerely,
    A concerned reader

    February 5, 2009 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  5. sandee in Portland

    Oh for crying out loud, it's not as though she has a copyright on this song. She's not even the first one to sing it. I think Nat King Cole sang it originally. Typical entertainer with no brains, no smart, no common sense. She's what's wrong with our society today. It's all about me and mine rather than what's good for the majority.

    February 5, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  6. tt

    she just wanted to be notice with her old a$s. ASK LAST SHE COMES OUT

    February 5, 2009 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  7. Shequie

    My thoughts; Beyonce couldn't do that song justice the way Etta James did, not in a million years. That doesn't make it wrong for her to sing it, but I would love to see Etta James whip Beyonce's @$$. That would be priceless. Does MTV still do celebrity death match?

    February 5, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  8. mike

    uh yeah, he is your president.

    February 5, 2009 08:31 pm at 8:31 pm |
  9. Cardi mom

    This is childish beyond belief. GET OVER IT, ETTA!! Be a grownup and a good sport. As a legend, you should be happy for Beyonce. This is so "un-legend" like. It's too bad......for Etta!!

    February 5, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  10. el-lobito

    What does Etta James have against fabric softener????

    February 5, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  11. kim

    Can anyone on here name one song of beyonce's that a young entertainer would want to remake in 30 to 40 years? Beyonce is a joke, over rated industry manufactured performer, no one will remember her once the next new thing comes along. Etta may not have said it in the right way, but I get her point, but I am not suprised that Obama picked the here and now and not the real deal.

    February 5, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  12. rell

    Etta James, needs to get her OLD self somewhere and sit it down. Beyonce goes hard.

    February 5, 2009 08:32 pm at 8:32 pm |
  13. DMB-ATL/BKLYN

    First of all 90 per cent of you aren't even old enough to remember Miss Etta in her prime. Beyounce doesn't have the age or the scars that gives a blues song it's pain and ironic joys. She's a baby.
    People like Miss. Etta and Lady Day ( that 's Billie Holiday) lead hard lives and often were never paid the full worth for their work.
    If the old girl is bitter one can understand , you have a signature song, and you are still ignored. it's sad, they wouldn't do that to Elvis!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  14. Jackie, Richmond BC

    Get a grip Etta. Anyone who would diss President Obama over such a silly thing, is clearly not rowing with both oars, and/or really wants another 15 minutes of fame. It is utterly refreshing to watch this caring, intelligent man in interviews or anytime he steps up to speak. I avoided presidential speeches for the past 8 years, but I surely look forward to watching this president for the next 4 (and hopefully 8).

    February 5, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  15. New Era

    Personally, I was puzzled why such a old fashioned song was sung for our new President who represents a New Era... Surely, Beyonce had a more suitable song to sing for them.

    February 5, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  16. dounvme0341

    beachgirl – Etta James was actually born in the 1930's. Wasn't old enough to write a song, but she was alive.

    February 5, 2009 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  17. stephanie

    "Can't we all just get along," It's a new day. This type of behavior was not what Presidnet Obama had in mind, when he said, "Yes We Can".
    Stop the madness Ms. James, and stop being difficult ,I thought Beyonce was paying you the highest of compliments,When ever a great artists life is made into a movie that means you are regarded with the utmost respect for the experiences and life lessons you could possibly bestow on others so they can have some meaning in order to help and educate our youth particularly young girls. So Ms James take it with a grain of salt, and stop and think ,and then think again you must really be spectacular and you are defintely blessed to have been able to still be here so you could see the biograply of your life. Let's count our blessings and stop quibbly over trivial nonsense.

    February 5, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  18. joe

    the woman is senile

    February 5, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    Is it just me, or does Etta and Beyonce's mom look exactly alike?

    February 5, 2009 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  20. aaron in mn

    she said that to an audience in canada? hello, Cleveland? lol

    February 5, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  21. Donna

    How shameful to speak like that...

    February 5, 2009 08:36 pm at 8:36 pm |
  22. Merni

    Go Etta! Beyonce may be hot, but she is ghetto and her voice doesn't hold a candle to yours. You should have been invited to sing.

    February 5, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  23. Fran

    Arthur – you're mixing up Etta James with Della Reese on Touched By An Angel. You can hear Etta James on Utube singing "Don't You Know."

    February 5, 2009 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. Kdissy

    James is jus jealous of Beyonce....n e way, the tabloid thingy sed dat she didnt hve a problem with her doin tht movie...n i think james wanted to sing fer the president so she is makin a big deal out of nuthin

    February 5, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. Dan

    Racist old coot...

    February 5, 2009 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
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