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. Eric

    I liked Etta before. Now I need to go out and buy MORE of her CDs!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  2. Lorraine

    In reference to the remarks, that Legendary Singer Etta James made about Beyonce singing a song she sang years ago for President Barack Obamas Inaugaration is shameul, ignorant and disrespectful to say the least, Ms. James should have been honored the song that Beyance sang is still recognized after all these years,she should also give Beyonce the respect and consideration that so many people has given her not to mention she is still alive and fortunate to be able to have witnessed such an honor. Beyonce KnowlesCarter is a lovely person and was honored to have been chosen to perform the song and portray her in the movie "Cadillac Records". Etta James is old enough to be Beyonces GreatGrandmother. what a terrible thing to say for someone her age I'am sure Beyonce is very hurt, and surprised as well the older entertainers I would be.

    February 5, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  3. reggie

    Just goes to show that she was only on The Obama Bandwagon because he was black. She could care less about his policies. HUM???

    February 5, 2009 06:09 pm at 6:09 pm |
  4. Gerda Edwards

    This is in the political tickler because? Seems like a better fit in the Entertainment section.

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

    It's sad that she's loosing her mind like REPUBLICANS on STIMULUS they cant remember that we tried their way for 8 YEARS and see where we are now ?

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

    Sounds like a comment borne out of jealousy and a bruised ego.

    February 5, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  7. Keith, Co

    Missed opportunity, jealousy or just trying to make headlines. Yawn

    February 5, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  8. Sniffit

    She was on meth that she stole from Palin's daghter.

    February 5, 2009 06:10 pm at 6:10 pm |
  9. tjgal

    Ms. James.............you go girl!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! There is nothing better than the original.

    February 5, 2009 06:11 pm at 6:11 pm |
  10. Melissa M

    Although I think she could have expressed her dissatisfaction a tad more eloquently, I agree with her sentiment. It was an insult to Etta to ask Beyonce to sing that song. The only reason why Beyonce was chosen was to add greater star appeal to the innauguration.

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

    Wow, things must be pretty good for James since all she has to complain about is how a prettier, better version of herself sang a song she is known for, at one of the most historical, enchanting nights in America. She looks like the green-eyed monster. Get over it, at least you still have a job and can afford to take care of yourself. Stay in Canada next time!

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

    Beyonce was "out of line" she should have never played a part as Etta James; without giving her consideration nor contacting her; also I agree the song should have Not Been By Beyonce; There Etta James is Right – not to mention Beyonce Cannot Sing It!!! I Disagree with Etta's comments on the President – This She Is Out of Line With her Disrespectiful Comments –
    Beyonce needs to try and sing her songs – Not Etta James!!! Nor any other Singer who has a strong voice – that Beyonce lacks!!

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

    Sounds to me like Etta James and Michael Phelps have been hitting the same stash.

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

    Bitter. And probably a little jealous. I'm not a fan of Beyonce, but she is a young person who has shown her elder, the legend Etta James, nothing but respect. Ms. James unfortunately is not showing this younger generation much respect...maybe this is why she is not as beloved as Aretha and others like her, because she's nothing but a bitter old woman.

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

    This woman needs a life. She can leave the country at any time. She is ignorant and trifling.

    So what she sung the song years ago. She ought to see it as a compliment that someone requested a song she made popular years and years ago.

    With that attitude, she couldn't sing for me on a street corner, yet alone an inaugural ball.

    Maybe she didn't take her med's

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

    Love Etta' music but with incoherent unrelated ranting like this, she's just a loose cannon now.

    February 5, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  17. Teddy P Bear

    Ladi D aint to happy with Beyonce singing her song either! You havent heard "AT LAST" sung until you hear it from the lips of the beautiful and talented Ladi D!

    February 5, 2009 06:13 pm at 6:13 pm |
  18. Obama Winners

    Beyonce has been fighting to get her fame back since jennifer took it/snatched it away from her in dreamgirls – ha ha ha ha She's going after her oscar – but can't quite get there - Way to Go Jenn!

    Look at her, always wanna be where the lights are – you never hear about her giving back to the community or building a house for the needy -
    She's too greedy – I thought etta james was dead seriously - she's alive and they didn't ask her to singggg? Beyonce was hollering all up in the mic – not as graceful as etta, I must say -

    America face it, Beyonce is 'wayyyy' over exposed... trust.

    February 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  19. Jeff from Jersey

    Watch out for them big old mamas.They sit on you your finished.Big bubble butt vs the best booty.Sounds like asinine jealousy.It's obvious most of the time when her mouth was moving it wasn't to sing.She should probably stick to singing because eating and talking aren't doing her any favors.She's just jealous because Aretha got the ugkiest hat award and Beyonce the best booty award while Etta got a triple cheesburger with bacon and supersized the fries and shake.

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

    Etta doesn't really care for black people that much, and she doesn't call them 'black people' either.

    She's a rough old bird.

    February 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  21. sayit likeitis

    Give the woman a gold star. Someone finally has the guts to say it like is is. Millions of AMERICANS fell the same way.

    February 5, 2009 06:14 pm at 6:14 pm |
  22. Chris in Va.

    It's a shame that a couple of pathetic morons can find a way to interject political sour grapes into any situation. You know who you are, perhaps monies could be added to the stimulus bill so you whiners can purchase a life.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  23. Limbot

    Oh, and Etta, you can have George W Bush, if that's who you'd prefer. People aren't exactly fighting for access to him.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  24. D

    To the people bagging on Etta for her quote about the president, did you feel the same way when people like Eminem, Young Jeezy, and countless other celebrities spoke way worse about Bush.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  25. Mindy

    Etta James's version of "At Last" is one of my all time favorites. She has a right to be insulted. She made that song her own, put her signature style on it and made it her own.

    Beyonce is a pathetic joke. I think Obama made a mistake on this one. He should have given her the respect and honor she deserved. This was her song to sing. Beyonce is just a pale, pale imitation of the original.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
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