The 71-year-old singer says in an audio clip that surfaced online Thursday that she would "whip" Beyonce for singing "her song" "At Last" at an inaugural ball for President Barack Obama.
"The great Beyonce ... I can't stand Beyonce," James said in the clip from a Jan. 31 concert at the Boulevard Casino in Coquitlam, British Columbia. "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."
Beyonce portrayed James -- and sang the 1941 song written by Mack Gordon and Harry Warren -- in the film "Cadillac Records" last year.
Spokespeople for James and Beyonce declined to comment.
What the El!?! Editorial:
Now Etta says she was just just kidding.
"I didn't really mean anything," James told New York's Daily News. "Even as a little child, I've always had that comedian kind of attitude… That's probably what went into it."
Now we can all say we weren't there and didn't hear how she said it, but I'm not sure I understand how she could have said it differently than it reads and make it sound like a joke.