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. Kathryn, Portland, ME

    Unfortunately, Etta James' voice is not what it was when she recorded At Last. I heard her sing it on a televised wedding a few years ago and she sounded terrible. Beyonce did a great job on the song and was a perfect pick to sing it to President and Mrs. Obama.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  2. Raven

    Maybe she and Christian Bale oughta take anger management together.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  3. Shirley in California

    Even though Ms. James sounds real trashy in her comments-she does have a point. Why couldn't she perform her own song? Too much is made about Beyonce for me. If Obama wanted Beyonce to perform-why not ask her to sing one of her own childish silly songs? I say calm down Ms. James. I'm sure President Obama will apologize. He always does.

    February 5, 2009 06:15 pm at 6:15 pm |
  4. george

    what i find funny about this article is that she made her comments about the president in Canada. Reread that paragraph, she tells the Canadian audience if they know their president. She then proclaims that he ain't her president. Maybe old age is catching up to her.

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

    who cares

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

    Shame on you Etta James.

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  7. Wilson, Seattle

    Since when do political blogs use TMZ as a source? Are you kidding me?

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  8. Ry

    Seriously CNN? Do you not see how stupid it is that you're taking a story straight from TMZ and posting it under politics?

    Is this the kind of garbage that needs to be cluttering up a serious news section?

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  9. Chitown Jason

    Who the heck is Etta James?

    Exactly. Some legend.

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  10. Reginald Murphy

    Time to move on. Time and life stops for no one.

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  11. Jack

    "ain't" is not a word, neither is "prez".
    Learn how to speak the english language. Kudos to WhyNot for recognizing who wrote the song....must be a republican ;-)

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  12. DR

    Wait a minute, indeed. She was in Canada and asked " You guys know YOUR president..."? Um, if they're Canadian, then I don't think Obama is their president. Unless the Prime Minister of Canada also has big ears and she was reffering to him, in which case it could just be a big misunderstanding. Then the "He ain't my president." line would also make sense.
    Either that or she's gone a bit loony...

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  13. benjamin

    smh...black people,we just can't stand our own "species"making it big.we are our own worse enemy.etta what u said about our president is totally ignorant and very low..that song wasn't yours anyway!

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  14. Sabby

    Go Etta!

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  15. virginia for obama

    "YOU'RE TOO OLD TO TALK OR THINK LIKE THAT" I SAY, "GROW UP LADY"

    PS. . . I never heard Beyonce say mean things about anyone. She always carried herself graciously. The media puts things out there and she has to take the hits for it because she was the front person in her girl group. Some people are jealous of her.

    February 5, 2009 06:17 pm at 6:17 pm |
  16. Debbie

    Hmmm dissing the President in a foreign country? Didn't Natalie Mains do that relative to the Shrub, and immediately become a pariah? Well, this liberal likes Etta James and thinks she's entitled to her opinion. Any fan of her knows that Etta does like to go on about things. I will still keep and listen to her music, and support my President.

    February 5, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  17. Stephen

    We're in Canada....he "ain't our President either"!

    February 5, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  18. Mike in NYC

    Sounds like Etta forgot to take her Alzheimer's medicines again!

    February 5, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  19. Arkansas Undertaker

    I was a huge fan of Etta Jsmes for many years, but I just lost all respect for her.

    I will be throwing out all me CD's and LP's as soon as I get home this evening. The HELL WITH ETTA JAMES!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  20. Carrie

    She's a legend and this is her signature song. She may not have said it diplomatically but I agree she should have been asked to participate in some form or fashion. I understand why she is hurt.

    This takes nothing away from my admiration of the President BTW. The folks organizing the balls should have seen this coming and had her sing at one of the balls.

    February 5, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  21. Tina

    Etta, you are making too much sense...

    WATCH OUT

    February 5, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  22. Jane

    Beyonce is a no talent shaking her rear end on stage. She will NEVER be the legend of Etta James. Also, she needs to stop making movies because she is NO ACTRESS. She is horrible!!

    February 5, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  23. Alicia

    Oh no you didn't, Miss James! I do not think that is a good thing to blame the President honey. I can't imagine with all the problems that man has to handle he was saying 'I gotta have Beyonce' singing the song 'At Last' and not Etta James.". Think honey!

    I am proud that Beyonce' and her family are successful, but she has saturated the market way too much for my taste. I personally agreee, the Etta James should have been singing that song and not Beyonce'. Or Mary J. Or Jennifer Holiday.

    February 5, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  24. Joe Zambi

    Incredibly petty. Obama has more important things to be concerned with than who is singing when he dances.

    February 5, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  25. Mark

    so..... she's in canada and asks, "you know your president, the one with the ears?....." what an idiot, if you're gonna diss someone atleast get the country right.

    February 5, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
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