There’s a legal battle brewing between a country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum and veteran Seattle-based blues singer Lady A, whose real name is Anita White. The three member-band recently explained why they filed their suit, and White says they’re trying to erase her brand.
In June, the group said in a statement that they’d change their name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A in the light of George Floyd, the Black man who was killed by a white Minneapolis police officer on Memorial Day during an arrest attempt, a caught-on-video incident that sparked widespread protests.
The move was an attempt to support Black Lives Matter after protests for Floyd broke out around the world.
“Antebellum” in Latin means “before the war,” a reference that is used to explain the time in the American South between the beginning of the United States and the start of the Civil War, the conflict that would go on to end to lead to the end of slavery in America.
The group explained on June 11 why the changed their name.
“When we set out together almost 14 years ago, we named our band after the southern ‘antebellum’ style home where we took our first photos,” wrote the group, which consists of Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelley.
“But we are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before the civil war, which includes slavery,” the statement continued.
White shared an Instagram post on June 15 that showed a screenshot of a Zoom call with her and the group that made it seem like they came to a final agreement. “We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground,” read the caption.
That apparent agreement came after White told Rolling Stone in an interview that was published three days earlier on June 12 that she found it unfair that the group abruptly changed their name to one she’s been using it for two decades. Additionally, White told Newsday that talks fell apart after she received a draft agreement from the trio’s attorney that she was “not happy about.”
The band, however, said they’ve been using the Lady A name since 2006 and trademarked it five years later.
“This is my life,” White told Rolling Stone. “Lady A is my brand. I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”
White has also been posting about the dispute on her Instagram Stories, with one post reading “Performative activism is really worth nothing.” Her words suggest that it’s hypocritical for the band to change their name to stand up for racial equality and sue a Black female blues singer at the same time.
But the band said they filed a suit only because White demanded an exorbitant amount of money for them to use the name. The trio also said they’re not suing White for money, but the right for them to share the name without either party being able to take legal action against the other.
“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the group said in a statement. “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 is about to release her latest project “Lady A: Live in New Orleans” on July 18, her birthday.
“I will not be erased,” she captioned an Instagram photo that promoted the LP.