Anita Lady A White Calls Out Lady A's Legal Actions as White Privilege
The band and Anita White couldn't make things work.
Update July 10, 2020, 2:45 EDT: Anita Lady A White called out Lady A for taking legal action over the name Lady A.
"If they're saying that they’'e an ally, they are lying to the American public," she told Rolling Stone. "They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me and by not 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. They want to appropriate something I used for decades. Just because I don't have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter."
White explained that her request for $10 million would have been split between herself, Black Lives Matter, a charity for seniors and youth in Seattle, and musicians that need general legal counsel. It would also have covered legal fees. White notes that after she released her new single, "The Truth Is Loud," it was difficult for her and her fans to find the track on Spotify and other streaming services. Though both parties had agreed to "co-exist," White says it wasn't possible.
"Before them, my name was under theirs; I could find myself easily, no problem. Now you can't find me anywhere," she said. "Their best efforts were hollow; they didn’t mean what they said. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have been erased. I have new fans sending me emails asking how to get my music because they can’t find me anywhere."
White concluded that the situation is a clear example of white privilege, saying, "They claim to be allies and that they wanted to change their name out of the racist connotation, and then they sue a Black woman for the new name."
Back in June, things seemed to be fine between Lady A, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum, and singer Anita White, stage name Lady A. After the band decided that it would change its name to shed any association with slavery, stating that it would "co-exist" with White, things have escalated. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Lady A has filed a lawsuit against Anita "Lady A" White, citing her "attempt to enforce purported trademarks rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade."
The band, which consists of members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and David Haywood, states that conversations have come to a head with White and that her legal team requested a sum of $10 million for the agreement to share 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 said in a statement published by THR. "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."
In the lawsuit, Lady A states that it used Lady Antebellum and Lady A interchangeably, dating back to 2006-2007. The band's website even includes a page that cites the band by its nickname. U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filings referenced in the case state that the group registered Lady A for "entertainment purposes, including live musical performances and streaming musical programming" on July 26, 2011. There was no opposition when the initial filing was listed 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.
A day after Lady A the band announced its name change, White came forward, saying that she'd been using the stage name for two decades.
"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," she told Rolling Stone. "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."
Later, Lady A and White both shared a screencap from a Zoom call on social media and announced that they would both move forward using the moniker.
"Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A. Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had," Lady A wrote on Instagram. "We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come."