Published Jul 08, 2020The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum and now Lady A are suing Seattle blues singer Anita White — a Black artist who has used the name Lady A for more than two decades. Today the band Lady A — who are all white and changed their name due to its association with slavery — filed a lawsuit against the artist Lady A, asking a Nashville court to grant the group rights to trademark the name.
"Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended," the band said in a statement [via Pitchfork]. "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."
Last month, the two parties had seemed to have made peace over the shared artist name, but that definitely is no longer the case.
The lawsuit claims the country band applied to register the name "Lady A" for entertainment purposes, including live performances and streaming programming, several years ago. According to the suit, the blues artist never challenged this previously — even though the band only recently went public with their name change.
"Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs' open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the LADY A mark as a source indicator for Plaintiffs' recorded, downloadable, and streaming music and videos, Plaintiffs' live musical performances, or Plaintiffs' sale of souvenir merchandise," the suit reads.
White has performed under the name Lady A while touring and on recorded music that dates as far back as 2010.
In mid-June, a statement from the band Lady A said, "They have agreed that both should continue to move forward as Lady A." However, White herself quickly disputed that claim, telling 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."
Read the band Lady A's full statement about the lawsuit against White below.
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. It was a stirring in our hearts and reflection on our own blindspots that led us to announce a few weeks ago that we were dropping the word "Antebellum" from our name and moving forward using only the name so many of our fans already knew us by.
When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn't also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will—today's action doesn't change that. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place.
We're disappointed that we won't be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose. We're still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world. We've only taken the first small steps and will prioritize racial equality as a key pillar of the work of LadyAID, specifically leaning into supporting and empowering our youth. We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.