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. Lynn West Bloomfield, Michigan

    Why do we have to hear about this washed up drug-addict and her opinions? Beyonce, as well as countless others have sang it so much better.

    February 5, 2009 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
  2. N

    The best way for an artist to compliment another is true perform their music, what a kind gesture. You are too stupid to see it that way, say in Canada you one-hit-wonder-soon to be in a nursing home "at last".

    February 5, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  3. bs

    In regards to President Obama's conversion, the President and Congress should hold a prayer meeting similiar to when Nixon and Kissinger got on their knees to pray in the oval office.

    February 5, 2009 08:40 pm at 8:40 pm |
  4. Jasmine in Germany

    James made it clear through her use of language that she is not "presidential material". She should back to school.

    February 5, 2009 08:41 pm at 8:41 pm |
  5. Ken in NC

    Etta, I am an old fan of yours from way back in the day and still think the world of you but you were wrong. She sang just fine, She was asked by the President and First Lady to sing the song and you should be honored that the song for which you are so well known was sung at one of his Balls.

    You are also wrong on the issue of "ain't your President". He was elected and while you may not have voted for him, HE IS YOUR PRESIDENT.

    Someone needs to be fired for putting something in your Metimucil.

    February 5, 2009 08:42 pm at 8:42 pm |
  6. Maude

    It's simple, Etta James is not the one they wanted to sing for them at the ball. Etta does not own the rights to that song. That was the biggest hit she had and she didn't get paid enough to get off the "Chittlin Circuit", but don't take it out on Beyonce.

    February 5, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  7. frank

    i dont know what her problem with barack obama is, but i agree about beyonce. what is she doing on stage at a presidential inauguration?

    how about some real talent on a special day like that.

    example: etta james

    February 5, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  8. Bob Smith

    Ha! Ha! Ha! Love it! Beyonce is so full of herself. Nice to see a REAL singer call her out. Also good to see that not all people of color drank the koolaid.

    Rock on Ms. James!

    February 5, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  9. Ms. D

    Let's keep in mind, during the preperation for all of the Inaugural festivities; President Obama had very little to do with the minute details of whose rendition would have been performed.

    But in the grand scheme of things and another few weeks of job and home losses, I seriously doubt that anyone will care who sang the song. We all will be singing "At Last" a job has come along, my hunger days are over so who cares about Etta's song!

    let's get real and focus on something of importance.

    February 5, 2009 08:43 pm at 8:43 pm |
  10. Cheryl

    I don't think she is going to lose any sleep over what we think of her.

    February 5, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  11. keeth in california

    Wow! Someone's having bad hot flashes. I love Etta, but this just ain't her.

    February 5, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  12. JJL80922

    Wow...Etta James can sing circles around Bouncy...M$ Jay-Z is just wanting to be on a level she can't reach. You put a mink coat and move a hood rat into a mansion, she's still a hood rat.

    February 5, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  13. Observant

    BeYonce is over rated. I really wish that Jennifer Hudson had been okay to perform at the inauguration . I first saw Etta James when was aroung 18, then again last year at the HP Pavillion in Concord, and she is awesome. 'At Last" is Etta James song, Beyonce steals everybody songs, she needs to learn how to be original and quit trying to be like Britney Spears.

    February 5, 2009 08:44 pm at 8:44 pm |
  14. paul

    What an idiot. Canada doesn't HAVE a president. Talk about ignorant Americans, Etta James is a perfect example..

    February 5, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  15. frank

    and by the way, At Last was not a Nat King Cole song. it goes back 15 years before that. look up Glenn Miller.

    February 5, 2009 08:45 pm at 8:45 pm |
  16. Birdie

    Sounds like the old broad is a little bitter. She should be happy it was sung so beautifully by a very talented singer. It is time for the young thinkers of the world to make everything right.

    February 5, 2009 08:46 pm at 8:46 pm |
  17. Loren

    You tell 'em Etta! He isn't my president either. Lover of abortion and homosexual relations, why don't you go smoke a pack of cigs. while snorting some more cocaine. Break your campaign financing promise, hire lobbists you said you wouldn't, go try to hire some more tax evaders, go make more bombing terrorist friends. Do what ever you want, your the king and new savior of the world.

    February 5, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  18. Fanta

    I think it is funny and true on the beyonce part but she didn;t have to say that about obama.

    February 5, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  19. SHARENE

    ETTA JAMES SHOULD BE ASHAMED OF THE WAY SHE IS BEHAVING. SHE SHOULD BE PROUD TO HAVE HER WORK PERFORMED BY A MEGA STAR LIKE BEYONCE. AND FOR HER REMARKS AGAINST MY PRESIDENT, I AM EMBARRASED EVEN IF SHE ISN'T.

    February 5, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  20. Justine

    Obama is not the president for Canada!!!

    “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 must've been drunk!

    February 5, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  21. pepe

    Etta James is a courageous woman who history will remember pushed back against a completely unqualified man who should never have ran for President. God Bless you Etta!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:47 pm at 8:47 pm |
  22. Ben from Canada

    Maybe you've just lost it Etta. I got a proposition for you as well Ms. James: we'll gladly trade Prime Minister Harper and Celine Dion for President O'Bama and Beyonce, so that your plagerizing butt can stay the hell out of Canada and try to make ammends with Nat King Cole's spirit for literally claiming the song as your own.
    He's a legend, O'bama will be, and Beyonce likly will fit the mold.

    But you, we probably won't remember you after you're done stealing other peoples music

    February 5, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  23. Deborah

    I thought she died this past year? Like they say, If you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all. Bad Karma

    February 5, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  24. Rider3

    Wow, how unwarranted and undeserved. What an ugly little tantrum; very unbecoming.

    February 5, 2009 08:48 pm at 8:48 pm |
  25. mountaingirl

    Sniffit–absolutely on target, Etta doesn't have a monopoly on that song. Get over it–more important things to discuss. Etta, try some other way to get attention.

    February 5, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
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