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. Jeff

    Miss Thing needs to get off her diva perch if she said any of those things.

    February 5, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  2. mark

    I guess Etta can add angry, old, and crazy to her long list of accomplishments :) God help us to finish life well without humiliating ourselves...

    February 5, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  3. A_Rod

    It sounds like a good created controversy to give publicity to the upcoming movie! What do you guys think?

    February 5, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  4. Anonymous

    I didn't even know Etta James was still alive!! What a tragic woman...........and an ignorant one.........or is she having a flashback from some of those drugs she took in her younger days........

    February 5, 2009 06:04 pm at 6:04 pm |
  5. Earnest Wellington

    You are just a over rated jealous wanna be (but cant be) "SINGER".
    Go be a hater somewhere else, cause we dont want it here. Oh, yeah and Beyonce song your song because unlike you she can actually sing! And mabey when you learn that you wont have to diss on people (that are better than you) to get the attention you want (because you cant get it from your singing, OBVIOUSLY:)

    February 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  6. Lars Cohn

    It's an act, an act to garner publicity.

    February 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  7. herb

    I hear you Miss James and feel for you. Come on Miss James lighten up it's your song and only you can get into it and i bet the President didn't have anything to do with who was on the program. The president had bigger fish to fry than worry about the performers. Miss James I know you are hurt but you are a great artist and leave it at that-loose lips sink ships–you will get your chance.

    February 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  8. m

    Alzheimers is ugly. Obviously her day nurse forgot to give her the meds again...

    February 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  9. Jerzjen

    I have no idea why Etta James wasn't asked to sing the song. Maybe because he isn't her president! Nevertheless, her comments are ignorant. If she wants to complain that she should've performed, fine! But I think what's showing here is just jealousy. I'm disappointed!

    February 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  10. Mike

    I'd rather listen to Etta any day.

    February 5, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  11. Rob

    OH MY GOODNESS! She dissed The Enlightened One!!! Does she not realize that after comments like that she'll never be on Oprah's show! I bet if we sedate this 'Etta James', we can investigate and find out that she's really a robot created by Cheney and Rove, and that the real Etta James is being waterboarded in a basement in Crawford, Texas, yelling "Yes we can! Yes we can!"

    February 5, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  12. BigSixx

    Sounds to me like she's been drinking a big helping of Haterade!! lol

    February 5, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  13. Nola

    They should have had Etta James sang instead of Beyonce. Only one person can sang "At Last", and that is Ms. James

    February 5, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  14. AriesKingthe1st

    You know, I don't blame Etta James for her to feel that way. I was as shocked as her, talking to the T.V and saying,"You know Etta James ain't dead yet right?" It is easy to blame Beyonce and President Obama for this being that they are in the forefront of this. But whoever was responsible should take blame for being stupid; one, because the movie bombed, and two, ETTA JAMES AIN"T DEAD YET! Peace.

    February 5, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  15. Johnice Cox

    I didn't even know Etta James was still alive. What an ignorant thing to say..........she must be having a flashback from some of those drugs she took in her younger days............

    February 5, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
  16. L Silva

    I admire Etta James as a great singer and I have always loved her song, At Last. I am not fond of bitter people...so, I think she could have been more gracious to both people, regardless of how she really feels...especially our President. She'll be remembered more for this interview than her music. Pity...

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  17. Joann

    Since Beyonce did the movie and put Etta James back in the spotlight.
    What is her beef? Just ask for yor royalties honey. Stop bad mouthing our President and Beyonce for that matter. You're getting money for this.

    If you live in the U.S.A. he is definitely your "President". If you don't then not. The denounce your country if that's what you want.

    If you wanted to sing to the President and his wife then you show have put a call in on it. Get it.

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  18. Menopause talking

    What a bitter, dejected old has-been of a woman. Clearly she's driven by jealousy and envy, not to mention probably menopause. She didn't even write that song... it wasn't enough for her that she was inducted into the hall of fame for covering it? Keep your opinion to yourself, Etta, and why not show a little support for the younger generation, not to mention some patriotism, ok hag? And stay away from the buffet table.

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  19. bhogan

    Well, at least everyone's sense of irony is intact.

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  20. LYNETTE IN CA

    This is over the top! Did she get any payment for B singing this song in the movie? If she holds the rights and only allowed the song to be sung in the movie, then she may have a beef. If she doesn't own the rights or sold the rights, then ...it is what it is and there's really nothing to say.

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  21. Matt

    Better headline: Senile old singer needs attention, rambles

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  22. yaaba

    I think Etta James should be proud that Beyonce selected her song to sing. I know Beyonce has a list of selections she could have used. Why do we have to be so ugly at a time like this. Ms. James, you should be teaching the young ladies a lot better than this. You are in your seventies and you know what you have gone thru in your life. When do we pull together as women and stop the meanness.

    Ms. James, he is President Obama, have some respect.

    February 5, 2009 06:07 pm at 6:07 pm |
  23. Jermaine Speed

    It's sad to think now that every time I hear Etta James' "At Last," a song which I loved, it's going to have this mean-spirited memory attached to it. She really didn't do herself or her legacy any favors. I feel bad for Beyonce, but I feel worse for Etta James because she showed a very sad, nasty part of her soul that day.

    February 5, 2009 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
  24. Erik

    Do you smell that.... It's such a distinctive smell... Hmmm.... What in the world could it be?

    Aaaaah, I remember that smell. Smells like Jealousy (or her used crack pipe)

    February 5, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  25. Marlo Shedlock

    aren't there more important things to worry about?

    February 5, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
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