Etta James Blasts Beyoncé and President Obama
In audio clips that began circulating the internet shortly after her Seattle show the 71-year-old singer can be heard saying “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.” She then continued on to say “But I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song — she's going to get her a** whipped. The great Beyoncé. ... I can't stand Beyoncé. She has no business up there, singing up there on a big ol' president day, gonna be singing my song that I've been singing forever.”
It sounds like someone needs a cookie.
So what ignited that little rant? Apparently Etta isn’t too happy about Beyoncé’s performance of “At Last” for the President and First Lady’s traditional first dance – which took place at the Neighborhood Ball in Washington D.C. on January 20th. While most people would agree that Beyoncé pulled off a fantastic vocal performance at the inaugural ball, it isn’t her vocals that have the Blues legend up in arms. Instead it seems that Etta James has come to the conclusion that she was somehow slighted by not being invited to perform, and further insulted by having “her” song sung by someone other than herself. Which--being completely frank--isn’t even “her” song, but rather was originally Glenn Miller’s in 1942, and was later covered by Nat King Cole in 1957.
Giving credit where credit is due, Etta James is a music legend in her own right; and while “At Last” was not originally her song, it is undeniable that her version is what made the song a classic. Of course as a result “At Last” is and will remain Etta James’ signature song. However, it is silly to construe Beyoncé’s rendition of “At Last” to be anything other than a respectful performance that pays tribute to a musical inspiration who rocked it first. Especially since Beyoncé put so much effort into thoughtfully portraying Etta James in the recent film “Cadillac Records”, and always has positive things to say about the singer.
With that said, while it was surely an honor for Beyoncé to have the opportunity to sing “At Last” for the President and First Lady, on that same token it should also have been an honor for a music legend to have the opportunity to watch such a promising and beautiful artist sing and be inspired by “her” song.
There’s a time and place for everything, and sometimes there comes a time for even the greats to gracefully take a step to the side and provide compassionate encouragement to those who follow in their footsteps.
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