Lady A (formerly Antebellum) apologize to Anita White for 'appropriating' name, fans say band 'missed the point'
The word Antebellum's racist connotations, particularly its connection to slavery, prompted the group to change their name, but they failed to check if their new name was already in use
Country trio Lady A, formerly 'Lady Antebellum', have decided to continue using their new name despite it already belonging to a blues singer.
The group recently made their choice to change their name known to the world via an online statement which clarified that their choice stemmed from their new-found understandings of the racist origins of their name. While the 'A' in their name still stood for 'Antebellum', a term that is used to refer to pre-war Southern times and has strong links to plantations and thus, slavery, it at the very least omitted the entire word. The group's statement confirmed that they did not take the time to fully comprehend what that term meant and after using the name for 14 years decided to change it amid ongoing protests against racism and police brutality.
But, as it turned out, they once again failed to do any real research before changing their name, because it was already taken: by black soul singer, Anita White, who has been releasing music as Lady A for over two decades. White soon shared her anger and frustration at having her brand co-opted by a group she deemed were "using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time." She also called out the group for waiting till now to change their name, adding that "If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before," and stating this was simply "an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them," adding, "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 two parties eventually did communicate and despite now knowing they had gone from one ill-researched name to the next, it appears the group has elected to stick with their new name. A representative for the group confirmed to CBS News that both Lady As have agreed to keep their respective names, and this has not gone down well with the general public.
"So much for acknowledging racism," tweeted one user, "Meaning: our white brand has more selling power than this Black woman so, yeah, we are going to use it," said another, one stated, "Um Ok...I think the band is missing the point," and another shared, "This actually seems worse than them keeping their old name."
Fans of White were naturally angered by the decision. One stated, "I’ve been following the real Lady A, Anita for years. Lady Antebellum is definitely in the wrong! Their use of “A” still stands for the same thing and taking it from a black woman makes it all the more racist. By the way the real Lady A is a great singer/songwriter/lady."
Another said, "A quick google search could have saved them from looking like total a-holes, but ok...here we go, again." Others took offense to the group's name, both old and new, since it continues to have racist connotations either way. "I don't know Lady A or care about them but, Lady A should never have been chosen because it's simply an abbreviated form of the offensive name. Just call themselves White Lady and be done," read one tweet, while another shared, "Boycott. Which isn’t any change to my lifestyle, already didn’t listen due to their name."
White shared with CBS News however, that she was initially "triggered" upon finding out that the band was suddenly using the name she's had for over 20 years. "I always try to tell people that trauma is real for black people, and especially now," White stated. "With the murders that are happening in the street, on television where people can watch them or children can see black men, women being killed, I was triggered. And so I was furious when I first found out that Lady Antebellum had appropriated the name."
"I was furious because it felt like yet another white person's privilege was going to be allowed to take something from another black person," she continued. "Besides our lives, now you're gonna take our name, and that triggered me." But on June 15, following a Zoom call with the band where they apologized to her, it appears White is willing to forgive and move on. "I accepted that apology and forgive them for that misstep, but at the same time, we need to work to make a better change," she stated.
She also urged people to not send hate the band's way, stating, "I don't want people out there spewing hate just because they made a misstep. And yes, I was angry about it, but I'm over it now." She continued, "This is where white allies need to start listening to black people, indigenous people, people of color. We need to make sure that you're listening so that we can change this narrative of racism in this world." She also applauded them for taking the step towards being better allies with their name change, adding, "I'm willing to help any way I can and they are willing to help any way they can. So we're gonna work together." When queried whether this meant a collaboration in the future, she said, "We talked about it and we'll see where that goes."
The one major positive to come out of this is that White has gotten a bit of free publicity. "I had an audience and a fan base before this. I have CD's out before this. I've toured before this," White stated. "This will only make it better."