Anita White — a black gospel and blues singer who’s called herself “Lady A” for decades — is hitting out at the country trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum for suing her over legal use of the name.
What are the details?
In a Rolling Stone op-ed, White says the band — composed of musicians Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood — is not doing much more than asserting white privilege.
White also explains that the band wants to “appropriate” a name she’s used for most of her career in order to “change the narrative.”
“They want to appropriate something I used for decades,” she writes. “Just because I don’t have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter.”
She adds, “They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me, and not by telling the entire truth. 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.”
The band’s lawsuit claims that it has used the trademark “Lady A” for several years.
White says, however, that the band is only changing its name amid a racially charged time following the death of George Floyd and the subsequent riots, protests, and demonstrations.
“Not wanting a name that is a reminder to many black folks of how so much was taken from us: our freedom, languages, families, and even our names makes sense,” she writes. “However, to do so by taking the name on which I, a Black woman, have built my career in the music industry for over 20 years, is ironic.
“Lady Antebellum to Lady A didn’t change the connotation or yield to them being inclusive,” she explains. “They are yet again using their privilege to take because I don’t want to share in the name. They brought this to the forefront. I didn’t. If they had been true to their word, their name would have completely changed. They have the means and the power.”
White also notes that she did request the band pay her $10 million before she would agree to rebrand and allow them to use the name. She said that half of the funds would go to the Black Lives Matter movement, and other allotments would be apportioned to her community, church, and other artists.
She also explains that she and the band’s members met via a Zoom call and discussed mediation. Some ideas reportedly included the trio recording a song with White, or appearing in a documentary about racial tensions together. White, however, says that she was not interested in such options and felt instead that the members of the band were making weak gestures in order to save face.
“They came back with their agreement, which didn’t address my concerns, and I knew what they wanted,” she writes. “They wanted a story that showed us getting along. They wanted me to make them look good in the eyes of the public, and that’s why that Zoom call was so important to them. It wasn’t important to me. I went along with it figuring maybe they’d keep at their word, but that didn’t happen.”
White also says that the band publicized her request to be paid just to make her look bad in the eyes of the public.
“They do this to make me look bad, like I’m just out for the money,” she adds. “I didn’t need their money before. I have a job that I’m retiring from, and I have music that I do. My life was happy before I met them. I do community work. You need to understand if you’re going to be an ally, you need to speak up bravely about what is going on. And if they’re saying they’re an ally, they are lying to the American public.”