Fight over 'Lady A': Band Lady A sues Blues veteran Anita 'Lady A' White as singer seeks $10M for use of name
Band members say they have been holding the copyright of the name since 2011 and Anita White claims she's been using it for over 20 years
Lady Antebellum (Lady A now) members Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott, and Dave Haywood had announced on June 11 that they will drop Antebellum from their band title in the face of Black Lives Matter movement considering the word antebellum's connection to slavery. The band members announced that they would now go by Lady A and for this, they had held the trademark rights since 2011. However, Blues singer Anita White, who also goes by the title Lady A did not take to their announcement too kindly and also said that she was blindsided. The two sides had attempted to negotiate a deal and come to term about using the title. However, this failed.
A lawsuit was filed on Wednesday in Nashville’s US District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee. Kelley, Scott and Haywood's side explained in the suit 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."
In a group statement, members of the band formerly known as 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."
In the statement, they added, "It was stirring in our hearts and reflection on our own blind spots that led us to announce a few weeks ago that we were dropping the word ‘Antebellum' from our name and moving forward using only the name so many of our fans already knew us by. When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will – today’s action doesn’t change that."
White, speaking about the title struggle between her and members of Lady Antebellum had written on Instagram earlier, "This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done... They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time... It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slavery reference to it."
However, she changed her mind after first round of negotiations. She shared the update that the band members of Lady A wrote which said, "Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A. Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had. We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come." She also shared a picture of the Zoom conversation that they had had on Instagram.