Blues singer Anita White, better known to her fans as Lady A, is firing back at the band that’s suing her over the stage name she’s used for decades.
The country hit-makers once called Lady Antebellum filed suit against White last week after they claimed she “demanded a $10 million payment” in exchange for their using the Lady A name.
Now the singer is hitting back at the band and sharing her side of the story in the wake of the legal action.
“I first heard about Lady Antebellum’s planned name change after they went public on June 11, 2020, at which point I was shocked and taken aback,” White said in a statement she issued to Pitchfork over the weekend. “During initial calls with the members of the band — Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood — I hoped that we could reach an agreement that left both sides whole. Lady Antebellum understood that their use of ‘Antebellum’ was offensive and that their adoption of Lady A harms me, as I have been using the name professionally for over 30 years.”
The “Need You Now” act revealed that they were dropping the “Antebellum” from their name “after much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest Black friends and colleagues…” They then adopted Lady A, a nickname their fans had given then long ago.
After learning of White’s claim to the name, they set up a video chat with her in mid-June, that, at first, seemed to go well.
But according to White, despite the fact that they all claimed they were “moving forward with positive solutions and common ground” after the call, that’s not what happened.
“Though they recognized their impact, Lady Antebellum has not been receptive to my proposals for correcting their infringement, unfortunately,” the statement read. “It has already been demonstrated why co-existence will simply not work. My fans used to be able to listen to my music on streaming services; now they struggle to find me. Due to Lady Antebellum’s massive rebranding efforts, Lady Antebellum has erased me from every platform. Lady Antebellum has used their wealth and influence to intimidate and bully me into submission without offering any real recompense for appropriating my name.”
She added, “It is now clear that their apologies, friendly texts, and playing on my love of God were just insincere gestures aimed at quieting me. Well, I will not be quiet any longer.”
The suit filed by the band does not seek any monetary damages or legal fees; instead it seeks to have a court affirm their right to use the name Lady A, which they trademarked back in 2011, after fans began calling them that. But White says that the name itself hold real value for her.
“After being called out for taking my name, Lady Antebellum and their team of publicists and attorneys are doing what many folks of privilege do when asked to cease and desist bad behavior,” White continued. “Hillary, Charles, and Dave are attempting to change the narrative by minimizing my voice and belittling my experience as an artist — as if having a lot of money gives them permission to tread on my rights. I have worked too long and too hard to just give my name away.”
As for the band’s claim that she asked for $10 million in exchange for the name, she acknowledged that it was true.
“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 explained. “It was my impression from our communications that this would appeal to Hillary, Charles, and Dave. I guess I was wrong.”
But she doesn’t intend to back down now that the new Lady A has taken legal action.
“Black lives, names, experiences, work, art — they all matter,” White noted. “Fellow independent artists have reached out to me to share their stories of name feuds that they lost because they were on the opposite side of big money and privilege. Not only will I not be one of them, but I am hopeful that this fight for what is rightfully mine will help those damaged by this type of bullying and erasure in the past, and that it will prevent it from happening in the future. I will not allow Lady Antebellum to obliterate me and my career so they can look ‘woke’ to their fans.”