After the country trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum shortened their name to Lady A one year ago, opting to drop the slavery-tied word “antebellum” in light of renewed conversations about racism and race-based inequality in the United States, the decision quickly backfired when Washington state-based blues singer Anita White spoke up to say that she had been using that name for more than two decades.
Although both the country trio and the original Lady A at first tried to amicably solve the issue, their conversations deteriorated into lawsuits: first, from the band, who in July of 2020 filed a lawsuit asking a court to affirm their right to the name Lady A, then from White for trademark infringement. Exactly a year after Lady Antebellum’s name change, a new Rolling Stone interview with White offers an update on the situation.
The original Lady A tells the magazine that the trio has “dug their heels in,” and that she is “waiting for my day in court.” Rolling Stone reports that, because the court denied White’s request to dismiss the band’s lawsuit, a trial will begin in Tennessee if they have not settled by 2022.
“In the meantime, they get to go out and continue to use the name that I’ve used for 30 years,” says White. “Why would you want to do that to another artist when you have the means to do something else? Those are the questions that I have for them.”
“All that crying and blubbering and they were doing and talking about how much they didn’t want to harm me, that doesn’t speak true,” she continues. She adds that she does not feel as though the band hears her points, and that “I said it was going to happen and now I feel myself getting erased.”
White also says that she “think[s] that [the band] thinks I’m irrelevant, and that is a mistake. Just because I don’t have the same amount of fans that they have does not discount the fans I do have. It does not discount the hard work that I put in over all these years.”
As Lady A, Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott have not only announced a summer tour, but also plan to release a new album on June 25. The band has previously shared that they still believe in the “heart of our decision,” despite the ensuing legal battle.
“The folks who made the statement that black lives mattered to them and the reasoning behind changing their name, I don’t want anybody to ever forget that. That is another reason for me to stay in my position and stand up for myself,” White says. “It’s an insult to me as a musician and as a black woman that you would say that black lives matter and that you’d change your name but you didn’t really, and after a year we’re still in the same position.
“Real justice would have been very simple for them to just change their name,” White continues. “That would have been simple for both of us. It really doesn’t cost them a dime, doesn’t cost me a dime.”
In December, White released a new song, “My Name Is All I Got,” that musically expresses her position on the matter.
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