Blues artist Anita White, professionally known as Lady A, is in for the fight of her life. The country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum is fighting her for the rights to her stage name. On July 8, Lady Antebellum filed a lawsuit against White, stating that their talks to peacefully come to an agreement were over.
In June, Lady Antebellum announced that they would be shortening their moniker to simply, “Lady A.” According to an Instagram post, they decided to go through with the change after much discussion and the ever-evolving conversation around race relations. However, there was a little problem with that. The name already belonged to the blues singer, Anita White. According to the band, they tried to explore every possible avenue with White. This included sharing the name and collaborating on songs. However, Anita is singing a different tune.
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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.
“They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me and by not telling the entire truth,” Anita White told Rolling Stone. “I don’t think of myself as a victim, but I’ve worked too long and too hard to just walk away and say I’ll share the name with them. They want to appropriate something I used for decades. Just because I don’t have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter.”
Lady Antebellum says talks ceased when White demanded $10 million for the rights to her name. They denied the request, saying that is was “an exorbitant monetary demand.”
However, Anita White never planned to keep all the money for herself. In the interview with Rolling Stone, she says she planned to split the money. She planned to save half for charities such as Black Lives Matter. The remaining $5 million she would use to rebrand her image. After using the name “Lady A” for decades, it would take a significant amount of money to completely rebrand and start over with a new name.
As for Lady Antebellum’s new image, Anita White isn’t buying it. “They claim to be allies and that they wanted to change their name out of the racist connotation, and then they sue a black woman for the new name,” she says in the Rolling Stone interview. “They wanted me to make them look good in the eyes of the public.”
Anita says an ideal situation would be for Lady Antebellum to change their name altogether. After all, does it really change the meaning of the name if they only abbreviate to “Lady A?” After hearing both sides of the issue, who do you believe is in the right? Let us know in the comments. As always, make sure to check back in with Country Music Alley for more news and updates.
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