Lady A, the country trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum, has filed a lawsuit against a Seattle blues singer of the same who’s demanding $10 MILLION for rights to the name.
The country group announced their decision to drop ‘Antebellum,’ a term referring to the period before the Civil War associated with slavery, amid the Black Lives Matter movement in June. In an official statement, the group say they came to their decision after much reflection, prayer and conversations with “some of our closest black friends and colleagues.”
Antebellum refers to the period before the Civil War in the South associated with slavery and plantations. pic.twitter.com/d5oJK4ZpYr
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) June 11, 2020
Lady Antebellum faced public backlash the next day when Seattle blues singer Anita White, a 61-year-old Black woman who has performed under the name Lady A for two decades, told Rolling Stone her identity was being stolen by the trio:
“This is my life,” White told Rolling Stone. “Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done…. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time…. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”
Seattle blues singer Lady A tells @RollingStone her identity was stolen by Lady Antebellum after the country group took the name amid backlash:
“It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them.”
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) June 12, 2020
In the aftermath of White‘s Rolling Stone interview, group members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelly and David Haywood are now filing a lawsuit against the blues singer’s “attempt to enforce purported trademark rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade.” The group writes in a letter they “reluctantly” filed a suit after White demanded $10 MILLION in payment for 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 group wrote in a statement. “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. The band is not attempting to stop White from using the name, instead suggesting they share it.”
Scott, Kelly and Haywood allege they’ve gone back and forth between the names “Lady Antebellum” and “Lady A” as early as 2006-2007. In a new analysis from Billboard, the outlet points out that the band applied to register Lady A for “entertainment purposes” with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office in May 2010.
“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 states.
Read the country trio’s official statement in full:
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.”
What do you make of this legal battle between the two Lady As? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @PopCrave!