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Anita 'Lady A' White refuses to be 'erased', fans slam band for suing Black person and 'stealing' her name

Many are pointing out that White has been using the name Lady A for over 20 years, while Lady A(ntebellum) have said they have held trademark rights since 2011
(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Blues singer Anita White, commonly known by her stage name Lady A, has opened up about the recent lawsuit filed against her by Lady Antebellum (now named Lady A) for trademark rights to the name.

Lady Antebellum announced on June 11 that they would drop "Antebellum" from their band moniker in light of the Black Lives Matter due to the word's connection to slavery. The two sides attempted to negotiate a deal about using the title, but this did not pan out. The current lawsuit was filed on July 8 in Nashville’s US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood's side said that the issue arose because of White's "attempt to enforce purported trademarks rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade". The suit also claimed that White's new counsel "delivered a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand".

Now, in an interview with Vulture, White has responded to being sued by the country band. The Seattle blues singer explained that after speaking with the band about recording a new song together, the band sent her a contract on June 30 that White says "had no substance". She said, "It said that we would coexist and that they would use their best efforts to assist me on social-media platforms, Amazon, iTunes, all that. But what does that mean?"

White added, "I had suggested on the Zoom call that they go by the Band Lady A, or Lady A the Band, and I could be Lady A the Artist, but they didn’t want to do that." White also said that, in trying to upload a new single to streaming services, she was unable to verify her name. "I attempted to upload my single (on independent distribution service DistroKid) and couldn’t verify my name, Lady A, for several days. It finally went through and now I’m just waiting until my July release to see if my single will be buried."

In a group statement, the former Lady Antebellum said, "Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended. She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held for many years."

White's explanation on this is that she wanted to use half of the money to rebrand while the other half would go to organizations that support Black artists. She said, "I was quiet for two weeks because I was trying to believe that it was going to be okay and that they would realize that it would be easier to just change their name, or pay me for my name." She added, "Five million dollars is nothing, and I’m actually worth more than that, regardless of what they think. But here we go again with another white person trying to take something from a Black person, even though they say they’re trying to help. If you want to be an advocate or an ally, you help those who you’re oppressing. And that might require you to give up something because I am not going to be erased."

Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum (now Lady A) attend the 2019 CMT Artists of the Year at Schermerhorn Symphony Center on October 16, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee (Getty Images)

Users on Twitter are riled up by the band's decision to file a lawsuit. "How do you go from we are changing our name to respect Black people to we are going to sue a Black person whose name we are stealing," said a user. While another wrote, If @ladya goes forward with this suit, I've bought my last album. They are just plain wrong. If the idea of the name change was to reject racism, this suit reinforces white privilege..." One user said, "But...the A still stands for 'antebellum' soooo what did you really do? Just do a complete name change, stop trying to just placate people, actually make a change, cuz this right here is bulls**t. And now you're suing a Black woman for the name Lady A...."

Many are pointing out that White has been using the name Lady A for over 20 years, while Lady A(ntebellum) have said they have held trademark rights since 2011. "They dropped the name Antebellum in support of BLM after realizing it’s associated with slavery, but are now trying to sue a Black blues singer who had the name Lady A first...? How do they think it’s morally right to even try to sue someone that had the name years before them?" said a user.