Now Lady Antebellum Is Suing a Black Performer Over the Name 'Lady A'

Illustration for article titled Now Lady Antebellum Is Suing a Black Performer Over the Name Lady A
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Last month, the band Lady Antebellum awoke one morning, took note of the current climate, and decided to change its name to Lady A. Fine. The problem is, that name was already taken by a Black blues singer named Anita White. Rather than going back to the drawing board and finding a new name that isn’t A) just shorthand for “antebellum” or B) already in use, the band has decided its best course of action is to sue Anita White for use of the name. Black Lives Matter indeed!

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According to Pitchfork, the band, comprised of all white members, has asked a Nashville court to grant its right to the trademark of the name, saying its not asking for monetary damages or trying to keep White from performing under the name Lady A:

“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 said 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.”

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The band announced its decision to “change” (read: shorten) its name on June 11, having finally decided that a name tied to the Confederacy wasn’t a good call. On June 12, White told Rolling Stone she was blindsided when she heard the news:

“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.... 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.”

In the time since then, both band and singer apparently had some fruitful discussions, which according to the statement, meant they “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.”

That’s over now, though it seems like all that praying didn’t yield quite the results the band thought it did anyway: On June 16, it put out a statement saying that they had come to an agreement with White. That same day, White told Newsday, that actually, she was not happy with the arrangement.

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“Their camp is trying to erase me,” she said. “Trust is important and I no longer trust them.”

The band concludes its statement by writing that it’s “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.” Who...is going to tell them?

Night blogger at Jezebel

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DISCUSSION

JiminyCricket
JiminyCricket

I mean, let’s look at this series of events:

1) Band names itself using a word that is clearly a historically racist reference

2) Band determines it is financially a good decision after all these years to change their name (claims they didn’t realize what the word meant? OKAY)

3) Band then feels entitled to use a name that literally means the same thing, they just won’t spell it out (wow that is classic modern American racism, beautiful guys)

4) On being advised that they are basically stealing a black woman’s name, Band say they will work it out but that apparently does not include paying her money that is likely pocket change to a band this successful (feels like the reparations debate tbh)

5) And then...lawsuit and references to trademarks. Instead of just giving her some money or perhaps choosing a name that doesn’t stand for the original racist thing.

It’s actually the story of white America’s attitude towards race since slavery ended, but condensed into a few weeks. Faux ignorance, driven by money, and horrified by the suggestion that they actually compensate a black person for something taken from them. And somehow this band doesn’t give a shit or just knows that it will appeal to the average country fan.