February 5th, 2009
10:44 PM ET
13 years ago

Singer disses Obama, Beyonce

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/02/05/art.cadillac.gi.jpg caption="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. STLouisGal

    Old, bitter, angry, jealous. Funny that she thought Beyonce was great in the movie but now she is dissing her. She's just mad she wasn't asked to sing. Get over it, Etta.

    February 5, 2009 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  2. Tallulah, La.

    Hopefully Etta James just had a "senior moment," because we don't need this type of silly publicity concerning our President. Beyonce will continue to garner attention simply because she's Beyonce, and Etta James will always be known for the song "At Last.", regardless of who performed it at the Inaugural Ball.

    February 5, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  3. janet, ohio

    Wow. Grow up.

    February 5, 2009 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  4. Walter

    How could Etta James have the audacity to make fun of Obama's ears? So what if they are overgrown? He didn't grow them like that. He had no choice. Those were the ears he was given. As far as I know, no one faults him for that. Everyone just looks past it and pretends he has normal ears. Why would she let Obama's oversized ears get in the way of their friendship? Obama is not her president? Oh? Just because he has big ears? That is discrimination.

    February 5, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  5. coolguy

    Etta, too bad mccain is not prez. maybe he would have let you sing, singer. your ages are a good match.

    February 5, 2009 08:15 pm at 8:15 pm |
  6. Joe the Lib

    Good day all,

    A rebuttal: If you are a citizen and a resident of a political region, be it a city, county, state or country, then the elected officials of that region are yours. They're your mayor, supervisors, senators, governors and your president. You get to vote against them, and you get to speak freely against them, as you have for over 200 years and thru majorities of both parties. But you cannot disown them unless you give up residence in their jurisdiction and the rights of that jurisdiction. You don't get to cherry pick the time of your citizenship. But you do get to vote. 8)

    February 5, 2009 08:16 pm at 8:16 pm |
  7. SHC

    Ummm...you're like 90 years old with a BAD weave and boobs down to your knees. Even if it WAS your song (which it ain't), Beyonce looks better representin' it. Go away....

    February 5, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  8. flexx


    February 5, 2009 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  9. Taylor B1

    Uh...why would anyone think that this song "belongs" to them? It was a hit for the Glenn Miller Orch. in 1942, and dozens of other artists have covered it. The whole "argument" is so silly.

    February 5, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  10. flexx


    February 5, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  11. Crest W.


    You are really building up your fan base with "this one"!
    What kind of example are you setting?
    If you had a problem with Beyonce singing your song, talk to her woman to woman! AND LEAVE MY PRESIDENT OUT OF IT.

    February 5, 2009 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  12. slott

    Okay, is me or just some people of non-color have a problem with Kool-aid?

    February 5, 2009 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  13. NisNis

    Ms. James, with all due respect I think that was out of line. You need to stop hating and respect your President. You are old and tired, retire already because Beyonce can do your song 10 times better than you ever could. Give her some props and that might take you somewhere. Oh, I know, you are mad because the President did not request that you perform at the ball but that is probably because you have a nasty attitude. You are way too old for this,,,start acting your age Grandma!

    February 5, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  14. Ray from CA

    Who is this woman?
    Rude and uncalled for.

    February 5, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  15. loviee

    etta get a life in canada

    February 5, 2009 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  16. Nick


    Seriously, I know who she is, but really, is she that relevant?

    February 5, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  17. irene

    beyonce did a beautiful job,the song dont belong to etta james,and i think one of those old 'divas"on stage was enough.aretha messed her song up you could hadly figuere out what it was supposed to be. go retire.

    February 5, 2009 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  18. Elizabeth

    Etta James should have been invited to sing the song "At Last"
    at the inagural! After all Beyonce is still very young, and as the news
    has it Michelle did not appreciate the attention google eyed Beyonce
    laid on Barack and demanding transportation in the Presidential
    limos. That's what happens when celebrity fries your young brain.
    At least Etta would not have tried to trip up our new president morally
    and get all that crap going on him.

    February 5, 2009 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  19. Angela in Atlanta

    Watch what you say. Your words and deeds are always recorded for an eternity. Etta is sick...and always was...that's why she is not a true "legend." One big hit...that wasn't even hers.

    As for dissing OUR new President...that was just uncalled for an unnecessary. Etta being Etta. But no one with any sense would have invited a ticking time-bomb to perform on that historical night.

    Beyonce is an extremely gifted, intelligent, poised, dignified, loving and BEAUTIFUL woman. She has so many haters...and that's just how the games goes. She did an OUTSTANDING job of singing At Last for Michelle and Barack. No doubt.

    February 5, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  20. JANIE

    Stay your arse in Canada

    February 5, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  21. b4dawn

    It does sound like Etta is a bit jealous and might be back on the juice. She has had a long history of substance abuse....but I agree that she should have been the one to sing that song. It is her signature song and regardless of who originally wrote it, her version has been the most popular and well know for decades.

    And for those of you who don't seem to have a clue who Etta James is (Touched By An Angel??? Really???) Shame on you!!! May as well say you don't know who Louis Armstrong or Billie Holiday are....oh, wait you probably don't...sad! Get a music history lesson fast, you're missing out big time!

    February 5, 2009 08:25 pm at 8:25 pm |
  22. jaye

    Etta is angry because she wasn't the one that got to sing at the inauguration.

    February 5, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  23. nicco

    I agree with Terry B. You get the popcorn, i'll get the mt. dew!

    February 5, 2009 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  24. Randi

    Etta James must be full of herself. She ain't THAT big in the industry. And why would she ask a Canadian audience if they know who their President is, if she's talking about Obama??? Does she have the two countries confused?? Is she THAT ignorant, on top of being "self-entitled"?? What a total waste of space and time it is in the News to even report her pathetic diva-attempts!! I'm old enough to remember a lot of the Greats, but I only remember her name whenever it comes up once a decade or so......

    February 5, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  25. Bud

    Gee – I wonder if Etta James will now be "Dixie Chicked"?

    February 5, 2009 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
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