The dispute over the name Lady A has gotten ugly.
Seattle-based blues singer Lady A is opening up about the legal issue between her and country band Lady A, which recently changed its name from Lady Antebellum and sued her to continue to use it after they failed to reach an agreement.
“At this point, I’m not surprised by anything they would do,” Lady A, whose real name is Anita White, told Rolling Stone after the group took legal action. “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.”
White, 61, said the band’s decision to change its moniker has consequences for her, especially when it comes to fans trying to find her.
“They said they were going to do their best efforts at insuring that my name could stay out in the forefront (with SEO and streaming services),” she said. “Before them, my name was under theirs; I could find myself easily, no problem. Now you can’t find me anywhere, so their ability to keep their word was false. Their best efforts were hollow; they didn’t mean what they said.”
White, who said she was approached by the band about potentially collaborating on a song, also said the group is merely following a pattern of oppression that has bubbled to the surface following the death of George Floyd, which has ignited a national conversation about race.
“The shifting of their name follows the trend of many other groups and organizations working to distance themselves from racist undertones in the wake of the uprisings in this post-George Floyd world,” she wrote. “Not wanting a name that is a reminder to many black folks of how so much was taken from us: our freedom, languages, families, and even our names makes sense.
“However, to do so by taking the name on which I, a Black woman, have built my career in the music industry for over 20 years is ironic. Lady Antebellum to Lady A didn’t change the connotation or yield to them being inclusive. 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.”
White marvels at how the band reached this point after ostensibly trying to work things out in a cordial manner.
“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.”
“They wanted a story that showed us getting along. 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,” she wrote about a virtual meeting they had.
She says the band reported that she sought $10 million, but wanted to set the record straight.
“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,” she said, noting she helps emerging artists and works as a community activist.
“So if you’re going to appropriate my name, I thought it was only fair I could rebrand myself with $5 million,” she added. “I could help my community, I could help my church, I can help other artists. 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.”
White said the issue goes far beyond any sort of financial matter.
“They do this to make me look bad, like I’m just out for the money. I didn’t need their money before,” she said.
“You need to understand if you’re going to be an ally, you need to speak up bravely about what is going on. And if they’re saying they’re an ally, they are lying to the American public,” she added.
White also cited the “white privilege” that she believes is prevalent in this dispute.
“There’s such white privilege that when a person of color, an indigenous person or a Black person calls them on their crap, they’re so offended by it that they don’t see. They’ve been allowed to have that privilege. Am I an angry Black woman? I’m angry because of the lack of consideration for me and my people.”