Country trio Lady A’s recent name change from original moniker Lady Antebellum was orchestrated to erase the tinge of racism associated with the word “antebellum” and its associations with slavery and the Confederacy.
However, the band’s quick name change apparently wasn’t accompanied by enough due diligence. As a result, it was only after the name change that they discovered Seattle-based blues singer Anita White has called herself Lady A for years, and even recorded several albums under that name.
The end result is the awkward scenario of an all-white group suing a Black woman over a name that she’s used for more than 20 years.
After the group launched its lawsuit on Wednesday, suing for the right to continue using the Lady A trademark, White is responding to the suit, which the group members claim they were forced to launch when White allegedly demanded $10 million to grant permission.
In an interview with Vulture, White breaks her silence and shares her version of what went down.
“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,” White says. “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.”
She added: “You don’t get to just come and take because you have that privilege. We don’t have that luxury or that privilege, so we need somebody to help us and lift us up.”
The group members and White had a Zoom meeting, where “progress” was said to have been made. However, White now says she “think[s Lady A the trio] always knew what they were gonna do,” recalling that band members Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott asked her several times post a photo of the meeting on her social media.
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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. #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheTruthIsLoud
The preliminary contract she received on June 30, she says, “had no substance,” explaining the contract “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? 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.”
She also addressed the band’s contention that she demanded $10 million, and did not dispute the figure. However, she insisted that of that money, she’d keep half while the remaining $5 million would be distributed to various charities, “including organizations that provide support to other independent Black artists.”
States White: “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.”