February 5th, 2009
10:44 PM ET
6 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. ejh

    Asked an audience in Canada? I don't think Obama became the president of Canada, did he? I think she was speaking to the wrong audience

    February 5, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  2. Mercedes

    Etta James has to relax, she has to realize that there is a new generation out there since she sang this song and they want to hear someone else. No respect but others have to be given a chance at the limelight. No one will replace her and how her voice sounded when is originally recorded it but live must on and she must too. I don't believe they we offending her. Piss Ms. Etta James, guess what? He his also your president like it or not, he is the president of the United States of America and the last that I knew we as american citizen have one president at a time and this present time he is called, President Barak Obama.

    February 5, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  3. david

    please somebody, i need the phone number for Etta James, aparently there is an opening on century village to sing this saturday night.

    February 5, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  4. Sam

    If Etta James (or anyone else for that matter) feels that Barack Obama isn't "their president", then the United States of America isn't "their country", and I would be more than happy to help escort them across whichever border they choose. You are worthless to this country and you are not wanted or needed in anyway.

    February 5, 2009 06:20 pm at 6:20 pm |
  5. dem 4 life

    I agree with Etta, I can't stand the sound of Beyonce's voice!

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

    Whether you voted for him or not he is your President and he deserves your respect. I don't care what she said because it doesn't matter, she has every right to criticize the President. But if your going to criticize the President please have a reason to do so. Saying hes not your President and making fun of how he looks is outright mean spirited and has no place in this country. Lets judge President Obama for what he does for the American people and this country and not how he looks or whether or not we voted for him.

    February 5, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  7. Ranger Nini

    I do not care for Beyonce either but she did a great job. I love our new president. The singer needs to get a life.

    February 5, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  8. Jessie

    Sounds like she is just jealous that she wasn't asked to sing the song. Typical catty woman. Get over it.

    February 5, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  9. Scott

    First of all, this song was performed at an event that was dominated by younger people in the audience. I'm sure a majority of them never heard of Etta James.

    Dong a cover version of a famous song is nothing new. Dozens of artists have been doing it for decades. What's the big deal?

    Etta James is acting like a child. She should just get over it and be grateful that millions of people who never knew she existed now know she does.

    And for the record, I thought Beyonce did a fantastic rendition of "At Last".

    Grow up, Ms. James!

    February 5, 2009 06:21 pm at 6:21 pm |
  10. Jan

    Etta may be "more legendary", but I'll be darned if I can think of any other song she did.

    February 5, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  11. Richard

    Etta is right! Beyonce just destroyed Etta in that film! Anyone would have been better than Beyonce!!! Etta should have been singing her song instead of that girl!

    February 5, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  12. Page Turner

    71 years old and still working – no wonder she is bitter...

    February 5, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  13. Jessie

    Oh and I forgot to add, Etta and her comments have now ruined that song for me. It was going to be in my wedding. Not now, I don't even want to hear it anymore. What a rag!

    February 5, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  14. craig

    Etta James needs an attitude adjustment.

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

    Jealousy is an ugly thing, Etta.

    February 5, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  16. Da Professor

    Etta James .... Chalk one up for pretty girl, no brain. Rather mouthy ! Beyounce would turn her inside out

    February 5, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  17. LeaE

    Ahahaha!! Go Etta go!! Now this, ladies and gentleman, this is a REAL DIVA!!

    I don't like that she dissed Obama, but that is what he gets for letting Beyonce gangsta her way into his inauguration. It just felt wrong from the start. First she announces that she's gonna sing–instead of waiting till she is asked. Then she announces the name of the song when the Inaguration Committee said they wanted to keep it a secret (they should've dumped her right then). Then she shows up to sing WITHOUT A BRA IN A SEE-THROUGH DRESS! Seriously, who shows up to sing for the President braless? The camera man had to zoom out of her shot quickly!!!

    Etta has SOUL something Beyonce does not and will never have. And she is still alive so she should have been asked to sing the song she made famous!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  18. Nicole in Florida

    Etta James is a legend and did an incredible rendition of At Last however, she is a little too old to whine about the realities of show business. For all you Beyonce haters, get used to her. She's no flash in the pan and will be around for a long time to come. Remember Aretha at the inauguration...40 years from now that will be Beyonce "the Legend." This young lady has proved she's a triple threat and continues to grow as an artist.

    February 5, 2009 06:23 pm at 6:23 pm |
  19. Gary Long Island

    Etta James version is better, but either case Beyonce touched the night when she sang the song.

    Etta James remade,recopied the original, so why can't Beyonce do the same?

    Message to Etta James – put a cork in it!!!!!

    February 5, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  20. Brian

    If Etta didn't write the song then what right does she have to complain? Take your meds Etta.

    February 5, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  21. Dwayne

    Why didn't they just have Beyonce sing "Single Ladies" for the first
    dance....that would have been more appropriate than "At Last" and we would not have this issue right now!! :D

    February 5, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  22. Obama-Mania!

    Who is Etta James?

    February 5, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  23. The Edge, Macon, GA

    Good way to get some free publicity....sour grapes....Etta James is a ground breaker, but after the ground is broken, someone else is allowed to build on it....chill....

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

    I'm not trying to be mean or anything, but I thought Ms. James was deceased. I guess I was absolutely wrong.

    February 5, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
  25. BC in NC

    way to go CNN--- this is the most important news i've heard in years.

    February 5, 2009 06:25 pm at 6:25 pm |
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