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. Janetta

    Get over it! Move on! Beyonce did a wonderful job....be proud of that.

    February 5, 2009 08:50 pm at 8:50 pm |
  2. JOHN

    HEY ETTA, I KNOW BEYONCE, BEYONCE IS A FRIEND OF MINE AND ETTA, YOU ARE NO BEYONCE

    February 5, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  3. Cokee

    If she is going to base who is her President on this argument, the... Oh Boy! I can't believe the things people do or say. Is America going to mature ever?

    February 5, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  4. John G

    Good for her. Reminds me of when the Dixie Chicks dissed President Bush overseas. I know the liberals who supported them won't dare come down on Etta James for her comments.

    February 5, 2009 08:52 pm at 8:52 pm |
  5. william smith

    Etta James has the right to speak her mind. Why was Beyonce chosen to sing at the Inaugural Ball in the 1st place? What makes Beyonce so special? Whats wrong with criticizing President Obama? Heaven forbid Etta James has an opinion. Maybe if Etta James was younger, people would take the time to see her point of view.

    February 5, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  6. Adrian

    PEOPLE, IT IS NOT HER SONG!!! NAT KING COLE and another artist sang and wrote that song before her!!! She is simply a hater!!!

    Also, you republicans kill me, you lost so get over it...this is not the forum to spew your bitterness. And if you dont think he is your Prez, please leave the country, you are not needed and will not be missed!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  7. bill

    I agree, Etta shoulda sang at the Inauguration Ball.....If McCain had been elected. Let it go girl, it's still a beautiful song, no matter who sings it.

    February 5, 2009 08:53 pm at 8:53 pm |
  8. Dick

    You would think that after singing the same song for over 50 years, she would learn a new one.

    February 5, 2009 08:54 pm at 8:54 pm |
  9. John Barry

    You're right. This isn't newsworthy for CNN... this should be on TMZ or something. But since it's here the song isn't her's unless she wrote the song and/or has copyrights to it.

    The poor old thing is jealous.

    February 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  10. William A. Schaedler from St. Louis

    If you've got a black president then you've got have some rhythm.

    February 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  11. James

    "Etta's song" was okay to have hawking cars on TV commercials but not good enough to sing for a President?

    February 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  12. The Jhazz Singer

    Look at yourself in a mirror before you go waggin' your tongue, girl. You ain't my Etta James!

    February 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  13. Vtercell

    I used to think Nancy Pelosi was the ugliest woman in Washington, but that was before Michelle Obama moved into town.

    When Obama talks about "putting lipstick on a pig", he speaks from experience!

    February 5, 2009 08:55 pm at 8:55 pm |
  14. bill

    I agree Etta shoulda sung her signature song...but probably for the JFK Inauguration Ball though. It's still a beautiful song, no matter who sings it...(or when)

    February 5, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  15. Etta needs to calm down

    She needs to seriously calm down. Why is she so mad anyways?? She's a Canadian, and Beyonce can sing what she wants, Etta needs to be a bit more mature. She's acting like a pre-pubescent little girl.

    February 5, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  16. David

    "At Last" will always be Etta James' song. Nobody will EVER sing it as good as her....

    End of story...

    February 5, 2009 08:56 pm at 8:56 pm |
  17. Debbie

    Not sure how true this is, but I heard that JayZ paid for that spot for Beyonce . She seems to have a sense of entitlement. If this is really true, bet she's feeling real stupid. Slow your role Ms. B, the world does not revolve around you. Thanks Etta for putting her in her place. Somebody needed to!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  18. BrooklynBrain

    Etta James must be coming down with alzheimers...the way she seems to be confused and flying off the handle like that...Obama is her president whether she likes it or not. Etta, honey, you need to see a doctor and get your head examined. I think your cheese has slid off your cracker, woman!

    February 5, 2009 08:57 pm at 8:57 pm |
  19. Marty, FL

    That's a ridiculous statement coming from an "adult." Etta, please grow up.

    February 5, 2009 08:58 pm at 8:58 pm |
  20. Japheth

    It's sad how many people seem oblivious to humor. If it's not spelled out for you it goes right over your soft little heads. She was obviously speaking tongue-in-cheek. Come on, people, read that quote again and think about her saying it. Then, next time, think before you type.

    February 5, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  21. Oona

    Etta, Etta, Etta. I'm sorry you were not asked to sing your signature song at such an historic and memorable event. If you were a lady of good character you might have been asked but that's not what your character or career has been built, upon let's face it.. Considering the timing of the movie Cadillac Records and Beyonce's spot on rendition, clearly acting like a lady has its perks.

    I would focus on the honor of the timely song. Even though Beyonce sang it, its clearly your song! Take care, mind your manners and stop disrespecting yourself and the office of the President, grown woman!

    February 5, 2009 08:59 pm at 8:59 pm |
  22. Proud American

    And she wondering why she wasn't asked? What a maron

    February 5, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  23. John E Lexington KY

    Etta James has an incredible catalogue of songs, not just 'At Last' – and Beyonce will expire long before she does. She should have been asked, she still sings it beautifully. Beyonce is imitating her, obviously – she just played her in the film. Etta is hurt, of course, and she fires at will. But she's a legend and deserves to be, so hold off firing back. Buy her last blues CD and you'll hear why she should have been asked.

    February 5, 2009 09:00 pm at 9:00 pm |
  24. Mel of Alexandria, Virginia

    So she thinks she is all that? No one is indispensable, get a life.

    February 5, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
  25. Dan Jones

    Oh, Etta, Etta, Etta, why are you so bitter? You could be Obama and Beyonce's grand mother. Act your age and stop griping.

    February 5, 2009 09:01 pm at 9:01 pm |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28