The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum is suing the Seattle blues singer Lady A, to be able to use the Lady A trademark in the group’s future endeavors. The band announced that they were planning on changing their name to Lady A earlier this year, due to the word “antebellum’s” association with pre-civil war slavery.
The singer Lady A, who is known as Anita White, has been using that stage name for over 20 years and asserted that the band did not contact her before publicly announcing their intended name change. Both parties were alleged to have made an agreement over the name in a Zoom call several weeks ago, but the band now claims that those negotiations have broken down, following the singer Lady A’s alleged demand for $10 million payment to use the name. The group also claims that they are not seeking monetary damages, nor are they trying to prohibit the singer’s use of the name.
“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the band said in a statement to Pitchfork. “She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years.”
The band claims that they have had the rights to the Lady A trademark for years, and that “prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs’ open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the LADY A mark.”
According to Pitchfork however, the singer has been using the Lady A name for touring and other commercial music purposes since at least 2010. She has also criticized the band’s announcement that they had agreed to share the name, calling it “premature.”
“I’m not happy about [it] yet again after talking in good faith,” the singer told Newsday, before adding: “Their camp is trying to erase me and I’ll have more to say tomorrow. Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”
The original Lady A also detailed this incident further in an interview with Vulture, where she explained that the band stated that they would attempt to “assist her” on digital platforms, although this assistance was allegedly never specified. She also suggested that they go by Lady A the band, while she goes by Lady A the artist, which she alleges the band did not agree to either.
The singer also claims that the band repeatedly asked for a photo opportunity to post on social media, and allegedly asked to collaborate with her on a song. She claims that the band intended to record the whole process of this collaboration to allegedly show their commitment to “unity.” During her interview, the singer also claims that he music has been more difficult to find online due to the naming mixup.
“I was quiet for two weeks because I was trying to believe that it was going to be okay and that they would realize that it would be easier to just change their name, or pay me for my name,” the singer explained. “Five million dollars is nothing, and I’m actually worth more than that, regardless of what they think. But here we go again with another white person trying to take something from a Black person, even though they say they’re trying to help. If you want to be an advocate or an ally, you help those who you’re oppressing. And that might require you to give up something because I am not going to be erased.”
See their full statement below:
Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended. She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years. It was a stirring in our hearts and reflection on our own blindspots that led us to announce a few weeks ago that we were dropping the word “Antebellum” from our name and moving forward using only the name so many of our fans already knew us by.
When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will—today’s action doesn’t change that. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place.
We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose. We’re still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world. We’ve only taken the first small steps and will prioritize racial equality as a key pillar of the work of LadyAID, specifically leaning into supporting and empowering our youth. We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.