About a month ago, the country group Lady Antebellum announced that they were erasing the “ntebellum” in their name because of its association with slavery and would go by Lady A from now on. A quick minute after they announced their name change, Anita White, a blues singer from Seattle, let them know that she’s been using the stage name of Lady A long before they yodeled out their first twangy musical note. Lady A1 (right) and Lady A2(left) got together in a Zoom call where they both made it clear that they’re not going to budge from using the Lady A name and they will hopefully find a way to co-exist. Well, that way will have to be determined through the court system because Lady A2 is suing Lady A1 for the right to trademark the “Lady A” name. So they went from wanting to show that they stand in solidarity with the Black community to suing a Black woman over the use of her name?! Did Lorne Michaels produce this story because this is a long-form Saturday Night Live parody sketch.
After that Zoom call, Lady A2 said in a statement that they both will continue to use the name, but Lady A1 later told Newsweek that the claim from the band was “premature” and that she felt like their camp was trying to erase her.
Billboard says that the lawsuit was filed today in Nashville’s U.S. District Court. In it, the band (made up of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and David Haywood) claim that they tried to work it out with Lady A but could not. They want the court to grant them trademark of the name. They don’t want any money from Lady A1 and aren’t trying to stop her from continuing to use the name she says she’s used for 20 years. They argue in their lawsuit that they’ve used the Lady A mark for some branding, including merchandising, as early as 2006. In 2010, they filed “to register Lady A for entertainment purposes, including live musical performances and streaming musical” and didn’t get any opposition then. According to them, Anita White started using the name to tour and release music as far back as 2010.
Lady A2 also burped out a statement, and in it, they say that Lady A1’s side wanted $10 million and insinuated that she’s getting bad legal advice. They also let us know that they’ve got the sads over not being able to come to an agreement.
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.
First Lady A2 messed up this name change by not finding out if anyone was using the Lady A name so that they could work it out with them behind-the-scenes before announcing the official name change (the way The Chicks did). And now they’ve messed up by not realizing how bad of a look this is. I don’t even know why they’re hanging on to the Lady A name so badly. The “A” still stands for Antebellum! They should let go of it and keep it real by changing their name to Lady Audacity since they’ve got a lot of that.