Lady Antebellum Sues Black Singer Over 'Lady A' Name Change
The country trio wants to change their name to sound less racist, and now they’re suing a Black woman to do it
Last month, the popular country band known as Lady Antebellum announced they would be changing their band name to “Lady A” in order to disassociate themselves with the slavery-laden antebellum period of U.S. history. The problem with the name change is that a Black blues singer in Seattle has been using the stage name “Lady A” for over a decade — and now the country group is suing her.
“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 members of Lady A said in a statement to CBS News. “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.”
From the announcement from the band regarding the name change on June 11 until now, both the band and Anita “Lady A” White have been battling back and forth in a legal battle over the trademarked name. While the band isn’t seeking monetary damages, White’s legal team is asking for a $10 million payment.
Band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and David Haywood decided to sue after “White’s attempt to enforce purported trademark rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade,” according to the lawsuit. Even prior to the name change, the band had been referred to as “Lady A” and used the nickname since 2006, according to legal documents.
“Lady A” became an official trademark for the band in 2011 after no one filed in opposition against the name, according to the suit. “Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs’ open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the Lady A mark as a source indicator,” the lawsuit said.
Regardless, the lawsuit does note that White has identified as Lady A since 2010 and that she also features her music on a Spotify artist page under the same name. The country band says that White’s artist page at the time of the court filing had 166 monthly listeners, compared to their “more than 7 million.”
Despite not seeking monetary damages in the suit, coming out and suing a Black woman artist after deciding to change your band name to stop glorifying the Confederacy is… not a good look. Plenty of people have spoken up about it on Twitter.
Anita White has offered her thoughts on Twitter as well, calling the band out for not doing their “homework.”
On her Instagram page, she said she’s not giving up her name and her own brand that she worked hard for.
In mid-June, White shared that she and the band were trying to work out a solution to benefit all of them. She even shared they all had a Zoom call that left everyone feeling good.
“We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come,” she captioned a photo of the chat.
Per The New York Times, The next day, White says she received a draft agreement from the band’s attorneys that didn’t seem to hold up those charitable feelings they promised her. “Their camp is trying to erase me and I’ll more to say tomorrow,” she said. “Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”
According to the lawsuit, the country band doesn’t want to take “Lady A” away from White. “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,” the statement says. “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 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.”