The Grammy-winning country trio that was known as Lady Antebellum until recently announced Thursday that, in light of the national conversations about racial inequality, they would be swiftly shifting their band’s name. The group said that due to “antebellum” glorifying a Civil War-era South, the band dropped part of their title and rebranded themselves as just Lady A. Now, though, the band is facing backlash from a Black singer who has already been making music under the same moniker for over two decades.
Seattle-based gospel singer Lady A, whose real name is Anita White, opened up to Rolling Stone about her frustration with the country trio’s name change. White said she wished the band would have contacted her prior to adopting the title and the irony of the situation is not lost on her:
“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. 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. 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 has released several albums under her moniker since she first began singing in the ’80s. While singing isn’t White’s main gig, she’s been gearing up to release another record on her birthday in July, titled Lady A: Live In New Orleans. White said she holds a business trademark for Lady A LLC, but isn’t sure if it is enough to ensure a copyright lawsuit win against the band. “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 said. “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.”
Ahead of White’s criticism, the newly-named Lady A had issued an apology about their former band name on social media. “We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused,” they wrote, continuing: “Now, blind spots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.”