Lady A in Legal Dispute Over Rights to Name

Lady A from Instagram
Country Music News, News

Many artists and celebrities are taking a strong stance against racial inequality. To show their support for marginalized voices in the Black community, bands such as Landy Antebellum and the Dixie Chicks are changing their names. The Dixie Chicks will now be known as simply, “The Chicks.” This change came after Lady Antebellum publically announced they will be known as “Lady A.”

A Firm Stance

On June 11, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum posted a statement on their Instagram. They say they have tried to be inclusive of all groups since their formation. However, the current conversation around race relations has opened their eyes. “Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed,” they write. The band carefully considered their options. After much discussion, they ultimately chose to drop “Antebellum” from their name. According to their post, many fans called nickname them as “Lady A” anyway.

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Dear Fans,⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ As a band, we have strived for our music to be a refuge…inclusive of all. We’ve watched and listened more than ever these last few weeks, and our hearts have been stirred with conviction, our eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality and biases Black women and men have always faced and continue to face everyday. Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest Black friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word “antebellum” from our name and move forward as Lady A, the nickname our fans gave us almost from the start.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣⁣⁣ 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. As musicians, it reminded us of all the music born in the south that influenced us…Southern Rock, Blues, R&B, Gospel and of course Country. 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. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued. Causing pain was never our hearts’ intention, but it doesn’t change the fact that indeed, it did just that. So today, we speak up and make a change. We hope you will dig in and join us.⁣⁣⁣ ⁣ We feel like we have been Awakened, but this is just one step. There are countless more that need to be taken. We want to do better. We are committed to examining our individual and collective impact and making the necessary changes to practice antiracism. We will continue to educate ourselves, have hard conversations and search the parts of our hearts that need pruning—to grow into better humans, better neighbors. Our next outward step will be a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative through LadyAID. Our prayer is that if we lead by example…with humility, love, empathy and action…we can be better allies to those suffering from spoken and unspoken injustices, while influencing our children & generations to come.

A post shared by Lady A (@ladya) on

Obtaining the rights to “Lady A”

However, Lady A is now in the middle of a legal dispute. They have been attempting to work with singer Anita White to use the moniker but to no avail. She has used the name Lady A in the past. Anita White is a black artist, which complicates matters. The band states they want to be more sensitive to marginalized voices, but is having trouble understanding Anita White’s point of view.

Band members told E! News, “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.”

According to the band, they do not want money from Anita White or to prevent her from also using the name. Their only request is for the courts to acknowledge their legal right to the name. The two groups apparently discussed the option to share the name and even collaborate on a few songs. Unfortunately, things fell apart.

Anita White is unsatisfied with the band’s offer. She told Newsday, “I’m not happy about [it] yet again after talking in good faith. … Their camp is trying to erase me and I’ll have more to say tomorrow. Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”

This is one problem with no simple solution. The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum is certainly well within their rights to change their name. But is it right of them to try to claim legal rights to a title already used by another singer? It’s hard to say what will happen, but this is definitely one case we will have to keep our eyes on.

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