Monday, January 25, 2021

Blues Singer ‘Lady A’ Fires Back at Country Band Lady Antebellum’s Lawsuit Over Use of Her Moniker

LADY A + LADY ANTEBELLUM
via Twitter @ladiawhite /Getty

*The country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum has filed a lawsuit against a Black blues singer over use of her stage name. 

Here’s the backstory… amid the ongoing protests and civil unrest over police brutality and race relations in America, Lady Antebellum decided it was time to change the band’s name to Lady A

Only problem is, Seattle-based blues singer Anita White has performed under the name Lady A for decades. 

Lady Antebellum announced in June that they were dropping the “Antebellum” from their name as the word refers “to the period of history before the Civil War, which includes slavery.”

After learning about singer Lady A, the group shared on Instagram that they “connected privately” with her to discuss shared use of the moniker, PEOPLE reports. 

“Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had,” the band captioned a screenshot from their Zoom call. “We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come.”

White, however, told Newsday she was “not happy” with the agreement and claimed that “their camp is trying to erase me … Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”

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In the band’s lawsuit against White, they claim that their “sincere hope to join together” her “in unity and common purpose has ended.”

White is now speaking out further about their legal battle. 

“They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me and by not telling the entire truth,” she told Rolling Stone in an interview published Friday. “I don’t think of myself as a victim, but I’ve worked too long and too hard to just walk away and say I’ll share the name with them. They want to appropriate something I used for decades. Just because I don’t have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter.”

White explained that she had asked the band for $10 million, half of which she wanted donated to Black Lives Matter.

She said the other half was to used to “rebrand myself.”

“I could help my community, I could help my church, I can help other artists,” said white. “And that other $5 million was supposed to go to Black Lives Matter to help other artists with this very struggle. And it was for my seniors and youth,” she explained. 

“When they talked about how talks broke down, they never talked outside of trying to get me to do what they wanted me to do, which is coexist, and that’s something I never wanted. I stand by that. I’ve said it so many times.”

The singer said the group told her they would “do their best efforts at ensuring that my name could stay out in the forefront,” but claims “they didn’t mean what they said.”

“Now you can’t find me anywhere, so their ability to keep their word was false,” White said. “Their best efforts were hollow; they didn’t mean what they said. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been erased. I have new fans sending me emails asking how to get my music because they can’t find me anywhere.”

She continued “They claim to be allies and that they wanted to change their name out of the racist connotation, and then they sue a Black woman for the new name.”

“I said it’d be nice to do a song together — to do a documentary on allyship and how we could come together on this — but I still didn’t think coexistence could work. I said that from the beginning and I’ll never change my view on that,” she added. 

“They wanted a story that showed us getting along,” White said.

“They wanted me to make them look good in the eyes of the public, and that’s why that Zoom call was so important to them. It wasn’t important to me. I went along with it figuring maybe they’d keep at their word, but that didn’t happen,” she explained. 

“I’d never asked for a dime, but they weren’t listening to me, and I knew they weren’t being genuine,” White continued, adding that a “real ally” puts “your money where your mouth is [and] you put your words into action.”

“They tell a story that I asked for $10 million, but they didn’t tell the true story, and they didn’t say why I did it. I saw this wasn’t going anywhere and they erased me,” she said.

“So what do you think I’m going to do? I have to rebrand myself. I don’t want to have to share a name with you. And you shouldn’t be allowed to just get a slap on the wrist. I wanted my name. All I ever wanted was to keep my name in the blues genre doing what I did. I should not have to bend to [the band’s] will because they’ve got money.”

White said the group is “lying to the American public” when they claim to be allies to the Black community. 

“This is what kills me about white privilege,” she said, “Their advantages let them do whatever it is they want to do. They have people in their camp to go out and get these trademarks. I never had that. I managed myself, I booked myself, I put my brand name out there. ‘Lady A’ has been tattooed on my shoulder for over 20 years.”

White noted that her legal fight “isn’t just about me.”

“I didn’t ask for that money just for me. If I give up my name or share my name, I’d be a sellout to my people,” she said. 

“Lady Antebellum to Lady A didn’t change the connotation or yield to them being inclusive,” she explained. “They are yet again using their privilege to take because I don’t want to share in the name. They brought this to the forefront. I didn’t. If they had been true to their word, their name would have completely changed. They have the means and the power.”

“We have to remember the reason for the name change,” she said. “If that wasn’t the true reason for the name change, none of this makes.”

Ny MaGee
Ny MaGee is a screenwriter and freelance reporter from Chicago -- currently living in Los Angeles and covering A-list entertainment for various outlets, including Emmys.com. She has worked for: Miramax, MTV & VH1, The Jim Henson Company, Hallmark Channel, Paramount Pictures, and for iconic indie film producer Roger Corman.

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