Singer Lady A says she won't be dismissed by band: 'I'm worth every penny I asked for'

The 62-year-old blues artist says she is open to giving up her name and rebranding in exchange for $5 million from the former Lady Antebellum.
/ Source: TODAY

The singer Lady A says she is feeling "dismissed" by the band of the same name and does not want to give up her name in the ongoing legal dispute with the Grammy-winning country music group formerly known as Lady Antebellum.

Lady A, a 62-year-old blues singer from Seattle, spoke with Sheinelle Jones on the 3rd hour of TODAY Wednesday about the feud with the band Lady A, which changed its name last month because of its association to slavery in the period before the Civil War.

"Their intention is good," said Lady A, whose real name is Anita White. "I applaud them for that, but you can’t go from Antebellum to A and think that nobody knows what it still stands for. If that was your nickname, and everybody knows it still stands for Antebellum, what change have you actually made?"

White, who has performed under the name Lady A for more than 20 years, said she has not been in contact with the band in about two or three weeks. She suggested that she be Lady A the singer and they be Lady A the band, "but they dismissed us."

"You want to be an ally, an allyship requires that you give up something sometimes,'' she said. "It requires that you put action behind your words."

Once Lady Antebellum changed its name, White said it had an immediate impact on her own career.

"As soon as they put a CD out as Lady A, they wipe me off totally — off Amazon, iTunes and Spotify — because they have more fans than I do," she said. "You can't have Lady A apples and Lady A apples because somebody's gonna suffer."

After initially meeting with White in a search for "positive solutions," the band Lady A sued her on July 8, saying she demanded a $10 million payment from them.

The lawsuit is not seeking any monetary damages, instead seeking to allow the band to continue to use the name Lady A, their rep told TODAY. The suit says the band trademarked the name Lady A in 2011 with no opposition and that their fans have used that shortened name since around 2006.

"They say I tried to extort $10 million from them,'' she said. "That was our counteroffer because they kept saying, 'We'll do our best efforts.'''

The singer said that she wanted them to pay her $5 million to rebrand herself with a new name and then give $5 million to Black Lives Matter.

"I'm worth more than the $10 million that I asked for," she told Sheinelle. "And if you don't think that you're worth it, God bless you. I'm worth every penny that I ask for. I'm worth more. I was willing to settle for the $5 million.

"This has never been just about me. If I don't get a dime, I'm gonna continue to do what I do. I've worked a day job and sung and traveled and grinded and bought my own CDs and produced myself and paid people and paid band members and rehearsal halls. I've grinded since Day One."

White says she suggested that the band put her under their management company and rebrand her with a different name, but that idea was not accepted.

"They didn't address it in the contract, they didn't address it when speaking with them, and I started to feel like, you know what, you're just dismissing me," she said. "They wanted to do a song together. Then I started to feel so this is the song-and-dance routine you want me to do so that you look woke to everybody else, and then I would just disappear because you can't have two Lady As, and that's been proven.

"I was willing to bend in order to bring about camaraderie, and for me that was giving up a lot, but I was willing to do it in the name of community. That was the like the last thing I wanted to do because I always went in saying I don't want to change my name."

White is adamant about retaining the name she has performed under for decades.

"I do not want to give up my name," she said. "I have worked hard to get where I am. Just because I don't have 50,000 fans or 40,000 fans. The 4,000, the 400 or even if I only have four, they're still important to me.

"I'm up for negotiations, but I'm not changing my mind. They need to change their name. Just that simple."