The Chicks say Lady A lawsuit goes 'against the point of changing their name'

Natalie Maines, lead singer of the Chicks, weighed in on the controversy surrounding the former Lady Antebellum after the band changed its name.
/ Source: TODAY

In a two-week span last month, the Chicks and Lady A each dropped a term referring to the antebellum South from their popular country music band names amid worldwide protests over racial injustice.

However, while the former Dixie Chicks have not had any legal issues with the name change, the former Lady Antebellum has sued Lady A, a 61-year-old blues singer from Seattle, over use of a name the band trademarked in 2011 after fans began calling them that.

The Chicks weighed in on the Lady A controversy in an interview with Andy Cohen on "Watch What Happens Live" on Tuesday.

"It was news to us that I guess they had gotten that trademark, what, six years ago or something," singer Natalie Maines said. "I wasn't up to speed on what they were doing. I think it was the right move. I think it's been very awkward and uncomfortable to have this whole lawsuit, and it's kind of going against the point of changing their name. Unfortunate."

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The singer Lady A, whose name is Anita White, has said the band is using their "wealth and influence to intimidate and bully" her without compensating her. She told Rolling Stone that she has been performing under the name for 20 years and noted the irony that Lady Antebellum changed the name because of a racist reference and now is threatening the livelihood of a Black singer.

The suit filed by the band does not seek any monetary damages or legal fees, instead aiming to have a court affirm their right to use the name Lady A. The band claims the singer Lady A asked for $10 million in exchange for the name, which she confirmed in a statement to Pitchfork.

“I asked for $5 million to compensate me for this loss, and to help me rebuild under a new name. I also asked that they donate $5 million to a charity so that we could work together to promote racial equality,” she said. “It was my impression from our communications that this would appeal to Hillary, Charles, and Dave. I guess I was wrong.”

As for the Chicks, they have no regrets about dropping the "Dixie" from their name. Cohen asked them what they think about people who disagree with the change.

"We don't really care," band member Martie Maguire said.

The Chicks are no strangers to controversy of their own. A comment from Maines about President George W. Bush in 2002 brought a swift backlash against the band and resulted in bans from country radio and death threats.

The band rebounded with a hit album in 2006 called "Taking the Long Way" and recently released "Gaslighter," their first album since that comeback album 14 years ago.

One of their fellow Texans, pop star and talk show host Kelly Clarkson, recently covered one of their early hits, the 1999 single “Cowboy Take Me Away," for her "Kellyoke" series, one day after the Chicks announced their name change.

"Her voice is amazing," Maguire told Cohen. "We were flattered."