Lady A, Formerly Lady Antebellum, Sues Blues Singer Anita 'Lady A' White
By Jennifer Drysdale
John Shearer/Getty Images for CMT/Viacom
Lady A is suing Lady A. On Wednesday, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum filed a lawsuit in Nashville against Anita "Lady A" White, who has allegedly attempted "to enforce purported trademark rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade."
The band, comprising Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and David Haywood, changed their name to Lady A on June 11, after reflecting on the Black Lives Matter movement and the ties the word "antebellum" had to America's history of racism and slavery. White, a blues singer, has been performing under the name Lady A for over 20 years.
The group reached out to White last month, and according to the lawsuit, they had productive conversations about both continuing to use the name until White's new counsel allegedly "delivered a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand." In a statement to ET, the group says White demanded $10 million. ET has reached out to White for comment.
The lawsuit claims that the band has used Lady Antebellum and Lady A interchangeably as early as 2006 to 2007. In 2010, they applied to trademark Lady A for entertainment purposes, including live musical performances and streaming musical programming. The application was registered in 2011, after there was no opposition filed by any person or entity. The trio acknowledges that White has performed under the name Lady A as far back as 2010 and on streaming services, but claims that White has never used Lady A as a trademark, and if she did, she applied after the band had secured its trademarks a decade ago.
The trio does not ask for money in the lawsuit or seek to prevent White from performing under the name Lady A. They solely ask for a court declaration that the band is lawfully allowed to continue using Lady A as well.
In a statement to ET, the band says: "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."
"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 explained. "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," she continued. "It's an opportunity for them to pretend they're not racist or pretend this means something to them. 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?"
On June 15, the two Lady As connected via video chat. "Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A. Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had. We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come. #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheTruthIsLoud @ladya_bluesdiva @dexter_allen_entertainment @oliveriiijohn," the band wrote on Instagram at the time.