February 6th, 2009
02:00 PM ET
7 years ago

James: Obama, Beyonce slams were just jokes

Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she insulted President Barack Obama and singer Beyonce.

Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she insulted President Barack Obama and singer Beyonce.

(CNN) – Legendary singer Etta James said she was only trying to be funny when she said Beyonce is “gonna get her ass whupped” and that President Obama has “big ears.”

James, who first made the comments at a concert in Seattle last week, told the Daily News on Friday that she continued the insults because the crowd was laughing. She said that her jokes were “not from a vicious place.”

"I didn't really mean anything," James told the Daily News. "Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude. That's probably what went into it."

James added that she was "feeling left out of something that was basically mine, that I had done every time you look around."

The legendary singer told the paper that she’s always thought Obama was “handsome,” but said that because of her joke he “might not ever like me in life.”

But Obama has “other stuff [to worry about] besides Etta James,” she said.

James, famous for the song “At Last,” did admit she was annoyed that Beyonce was chosen to perform the song as the first couple danced together on Inauguration night. James, when asked if she could have done better, said “I think so. That’s a shame to say that.”

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soundoff (67 Responses)
  1. Brooke

    Better not quit your day job... because no one is laughing WITH you

    February 6, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  2. bk

    Come on CNN she also said. 'Obama is not my President."

    February 6, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  3. Whatever

    Etta – you are officially a busted up has-been. Beyonce is no prize, but you ma'am... are no lady. Real ladies know when to exit gracefully.

    February 6, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  4. chuck


    February 6, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  5. Erik

    why should she apologize??

    I dont get it, she made a couple of Joke and everybody get anrgy...so what. I suppose we're just becoming a nation of BABIES who feel they HAVE THE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO NOT BE OFFENDED?????

    but whatever...I suppose thats why we're ridiculed through the world

    February 6, 2009 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  6. NY republican

    All this HATE from President Obama supporters that were SO concerned over the HATE shown by McCain supporters such a short time ago. Now i no longer wonder why the Democrat party symbol is a donkey (AKA jacka..)

    February 6, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  7. Dont blame me

    It sure didn't sound like a joke when she said it!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    February 6, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  8. Jay Z

    Obama stinks... Too many people think he is a god. You don't solve a debt crisis with more debt. Pick up an economics textbook. Inflation and the Chinese will eat us alive. I can't wait until comedians start manning up and make fun of him. Chris Rock... as much as you want to think it, he's not perfect. He only hires people who don't pay taxes. He definitely has issues with people selection.

    February 6, 2009 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  9. Texas Straight Talker

    Knowing the character of our President (God knows we should by now), I am quite sure he is not upset at all by Ms. James comments. He probably regrets he didn't think to ask her to sing along with Beyonce at the ball. We take all of this stuff way too seriously.

    Our economy is in shambles, politicians are fighting instead of trying to work together toward a solution which will benefit ALL Americans and instead of demanding that congress work with our elected President to find a solution we are here commenting on Etta James slamming someone! Where oh where is the sanity?

    February 6, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  10. Jackie in Dallas

    Tempest in a teapot, folks.

    A lot of singers feel proprietary about a song that holds special meaning to them. She didn't write it, didn't make the first record of it, but her version was famous for years and is closely identified with her.

    Some of the other commenters have been drinking the Rush Koolaid too long, though. And you think that those of us who voted for President Obama are sheep? Gosh, look in the mirror! I don't believe he is perfect, and he has, and will make mistakes because he is human. The problems is that under President Bush it was a traitorous act to disrespect the President, but now that the President is Democratic, it is freedom of speech? Sorry, sauce for the goose, sauce for the gander.

    February 6, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  11. hm

    Sad how ugly Etta "joked". That's like saying something mean, followed by "I'm just saying". Be accountable. Maybe you liked Bush more?

    February 6, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  12. Lost in Texas Forever


    if you can judge a president by his first two weeks at work then Ronald Reagan would not be the GOP demi-god he is today. I just wonder how many people on a new job were judged by what they did the frist two weeks of work.

    As an Obama supporter in a way I am GLAD he's having it rough right now. When the going gets tough the tough get going and he's gonna show us all why he won the office. Plus it's giving you right wing haters something to crow about for a little while since you're still bitter about your loss.

    February 6, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  13. dan

    This is the most publicity she has ever gotten in her life. Despite all of her grammy awards, I'll bet that if you asked 100 random people on the street who she was, you might find 2 or 3 who actually knew.

    February 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  14. Ambrose Smith, Borrego Springs, California

    Yeah.....she had them rolling in the aisles with laughter.

    Sure she did.

    Gratutitous laughter maybe.

    She is losing her BEARINGS.

    February 6, 2009 04:16 pm at 4:16 pm |
  15. Tunstall

    Janis, if Obama stinks? what in this world does George Bush
    smells like???????????????????????????????

    February 6, 2009 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  16. sandee in Portland

    Come on Etta, just apologize and be done with it. You're just like most of us that hate to admit we did something wrong. It takes a bigger person to admit they made a mistake than one that makes excuses.

    February 6, 2009 04:19 pm at 4:19 pm |
  17. obama all the way

    it was not funny, it was mean.

    February 6, 2009 04:20 pm at 4:20 pm |
  18. WELCOME TO THE OBAMA SHOW!!!!!!!!!!!!



    February 6, 2009 04:28 pm at 4:28 pm |
  19. naqib

    It's cool... he's going on vacation to Camp David to recover.. tough three weeks...

    February 6, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  20. Todd

    HHMM, you pick on the first black Pres and the hottest Pop Star out there. Then, when you get slammed...It was all a joke?!?!?

    Wow, Obama, sounds like someone you would want in your Cabinet!

    February 6, 2009 04:31 pm at 4:31 pm |
  21. Alisha, MN

    Cmoore, sorry, the title "Worst president, EVER!" Belongs to George W. Bush!

    February 6, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  22. Proud American

    Sure you did, the only thing you were to dumb to realize was the media would pick up on the story. You made the comments now stand up and be adult about it. Say bye bye to whatever you want to call a career.

    February 6, 2009 04:32 pm at 4:32 pm |
  23. what a hater

    How petty can you be James? Yes, everyone knows Obama has "big ears" and who cares? Before throwing insults around, look at yourself in the mirror.

    February 6, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. steve r.

    She sure changed her tune when she saw the responce by the public. JUST KIDDING? YEAH RIGHT!!!

    February 6, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  25. maria

    cmoore. stick and stones may break his bones but your words will never harm him. thank god for that.

    February 6, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
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