When I initially heard what Etta James reportedly said about Beyoncé singing “At Last” during President Obama’s Inaugural Ball, I didn’t believe it — then I heard it for myself.
The rant was recorded at a concert at the Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam, British Columbia Saturday, when James, who was supportive of Beyoncé filling her shoes in the Cadillac Records film, said she was going to “whip her ass.” She apparently wasn’t too thrilled with President Obama either, telling the crowd, “He ain’t my president.”
Here’s the whole shebang:
You guys know your president, right? You know the one with the big ears? Wait a minute, he ain’t my president, he might be yours, he ain’t my president. You know that woman he had singing for him, singing my song — she’s gonna get her ass whipped. The great Beyoncé … But I can’t stand Beyoncé. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol’ president day … singing my song that I’ve been singing forever.
None of the gossip rags have been able to reach Beyoncé’s people for comment, and I’m sure Etta’s publicist will issue some sort of apologetic statement soon.
Meanwhile, some people are questioning whether Etta had a right to be upset about Beyoncé’s version of the song in the first place. Sure, Ms. James made it famous, but two others made it first.
Jazz musician Glenn Miller recorded the song in 1941 and Nat King Cole followed suit in 1957. Etta’s version, my personal favorite, was recorded in 1961.
Oh, and there is no record of a smack down between Cole, Miller and James ever happening.
Honestly, the situation is a sad one. Etta James is a musical legend above all, and probably should have at least been asked to sing along with Beyoncé for the ball. Then again, it sounds like she’s not such a big Barack fan anyway.