News that the 31-year old performer may have lip-synced “The Star-Spangled Banner” at Monday’s inauguration may have come as a surprise. But it wasn’t her first experience as an inaugural performer, and it wasn’t her first brush with inaugural controversy.
In 2009, Beyoncé sang a rousing rendition of Etta James’ famed “At Last.” She sang the song as the Barack and Michelle Obama took to the dance floor at the Neighborhood Ball. Beyoncé’s moving rendition nearly brought some in the crowd to tears but there was one person who wasn’t so impressed — the song’s originator, Etta James.
A week after the 2009 Inauguration, James blasted Beyoncé and the newly inaugurated Obama before performing “At Last” at Seattle’s Paramount Theatre.
In an audio recording obtained by TMZ, James said, “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. But I tell you that woman he had singing for him, singing my song — she’s going to get her a** whipped.”
James went on: “The great Beyoncé, like I said, she ain’t mine. … 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.”
James later claimed that she was just trying to be funny.
“I didn’t really mean anything, “James told a tabloid a few weeks after her diss. “Even as a little child, I’ve always had that comedian kind of attitude. … That’s probably what went into it.”
The legendary soul singer passed away one year and one day before Obama’s second inauguration and Beyoncé’s second inaugural performance.
Get more pure politics at ABCNews.com/Politics.