Thursday, February 5, 2009

Etta James apologizes for slight at Beyonce and President Obama

One of the most popular ballads in the canon of American music has started a cat fight -- or a comedy show.

The song in question is "At Last," made famous by Riverside resident Etta James and recently brought back into the pop culture limelight thanks to Beyoncé's performance for the first dance at President Barack Obama's inaugural ball and the 2008 film "Cadillac Records."

James talked about Beyoncé's version on stage in Seattle Jan. 28, according to a report in The Seattle Times and also at a concert in Coquitlam, British Columbia on Jan. 31 in an audio clip from Crown City Media, said she would "whip" the pop star for singing her song, in language that would warrant at least a PG rating. She also poked fun at Obama's ears and said he "ain't my president."

Gossip sites such as TMZ have labeled it celebrity feud, but James said she was just trying to make people laugh."I'm a comedian besides a singer," James said in a telephone interview from her home on Thursday morning. "I wasn't doing it to be hateful."

In the audio clip from the Canadian show, the audience can be heard laughing at James' comments before she goes into "At Last."

James said her comments were meant to be taken as, "She's up here singing my song, now what am I gonna do?"

Beyoncé's representatives had no comment on James' remarks.

The singer has never shied away from speaking her mind on stage.

"I think I'm funny and she's not the only one I'll say something about," she said. A self-admitted critic, the 71-year-old said in a December interview that she liked the film "Cadillac Records" and Beyoncé did a good job portraying her. However, James takes a lot of pride her signature song, and would have liked to have an opportunity to sing the song at the inaugural ball, where Beyoncé performed.

"She got up there and sang it and didn't give me a chance to sing 'At Last,'" James said. In the audio clip from the Canadian concert, James said, "He ain't my president, he might be your president."

James said she was just talking about his ears and said, "He's the United States' president."

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