Yesterday, the Nashville country trio Lady Antebellum announced that they would be changing their name to “Lady A” due to the term antebellum’s inescapable association with slavery and racism. The only problem? There’s already an artist called Lady A, a 61-year-old Black woman who has been performing as a blues singer under that name for over 20 years.
Anita White got her start singing gospel music in church. In the ’80s, she began performing in a Motown Revue band and started going by Lady A for karaoke nights. She’s still releasing albums in addition to her day job working with Seattle Public Utilities. And she says that Lady Antebellum never contacted her before deciding to take her name.
“This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” White tells Rolling Stone. “This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”
“It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them,” she adds. “If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn’t they?”
White says that she’s going to speak with a lawyer next week to discuss her legal options. “I don’t know if [the new Lady A] are going to give me a cease-and-desist. I don’t know how they’d react,” she continues. “But I’m not about to stop using my name. For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me. But now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine, and I don’t even know how much I’ll have to spend to keep it.”
A representative for Lady Antebellum tells Rolling Stone that the band was not aware of the other Lady A and plans to reach out to her.
The band got in touch with Lady A and had a video conference that, apparently, at least somewhat resolved the whole situation — with the group stating they “are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground.”