A blues singer from Seattle wants people to know there was a Lady A well before Lady Antebellum became Lady A on Thursday.
Anita White, a 61-year-old Black woman who has released multiple albums under the name Lady A, told Rolling Stone it's "pure privilege" that the Grammy-winning country music group changed its name to Lady A without checking to see if it was already being used.
Amid the ongoing worldwide protests against racial injustice following the death of George Floyd, the former Lady Antebellum announced that the band is dropping the word "antebellum" in its name because of its association to slavery in the period before the Civil War.
Now the change to avoid a negative racial connotation threatens to take the name away from a Black singer.
"I don’t know if (the band Lady A) are going to give me a cease-and-desist,'' White told Rolling Stone. "I don’t know how they’d react. But I’m not about to stop using my name.
"For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me. But now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine, and I don’t even know how much I’ll have to spend to keep it."
The former Lady Antebellum claimed its new name has long been shorthand for the band.
"After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest Black friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word 'antebellum' from our name and move forward as Lady A, the nickname our fans gave us almost from the start," the group said in a statement.
White has been performing for decades under the name Lady A and plans to release a new album in July, according to Rolling Stone. The group Lady A had been releasing music since 2006 under the Lady Antebellum name until this week.
White may have the ability to sue the former Lady Antebellum if she has registered a trademark on the name with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office, an entertainment lawyer told Rolling Stone.
“This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” she said. "This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before.
"It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it. It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them. If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn’t they?"
The Lady Antebellum name change comes as other entertainment properties with a connection to the antebellum South have been under the microscope.
HBO Max announced it was temporarily removing the 1939 movie classic "Gone with the Wind" from its streaming service due to its racist depiction of Black characters. Also, a petition has been started to change the theme of the popular Splash Mountain ride at Disney World and Disneyland because of its association with the 1946 Disney movie "Song of the South," which also has been seen as racist by critics.