Lady Antebellum Suing Black Singer Lady A Over Name Change
Lady A, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum, have filed a lawsuit against Anita White, a Black female artist that has performed as Lady A for 20 years.
The US country group removed the word ‘Antebellum’ from their name back in June because of its links to the slave era, in the wake of the killing of George Floyd and the widespread protests about racial inequality that followed.
Instead, they said, they would call themselves Lady A – a decision which didn’t sit right with White, who criticised the band for making the change without contacting her.
The band said they had tried to resolve the dispute with White amicably, but alleged her team had ‘demanded a $10m (£7.9m) payment’. They said their action was to obtain a ruling over copyright, and that White would neither be prevented from using the name or made to pay damages.
The word ‘antebellum’ is taken from the Latin for ‘before war’ and is used to refer to the period and architecture in the US South before the Civil War – when the region was heavily reliant on slavery – with the group saying it was the architectural style they drew their inspiration from.
However, in a statement shared to social media last month, they said they were ‘deeply sorry’ for any hurt they had caused, adding they were ‘regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before the civil war, which includes slavery’.
The group, made up of members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, said they were ‘mov[ing] forward as Lady A, the nickname our fans gave us almost from the start’.
They later shared a screenshot of a Zoom call with Lady A, saying they were ‘moving forward with positive solutions and common ground’ with regards to the name change, and describing their conversation as ‘transparent, honest, and authentic’.
However, those conversations now appear to have broken down. ‘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, as per The Guardian.
They claimed to have ‘spent hours on the phone’ with White, ‘sharing our stories, listening to each other and praying’, adding: ‘We can do so much more together than in this dispute.’
White said an agreement announced between herself and the country-music trio was premature and a breach of good faith, telling Newsday she ‘wasn’t happy’ with the draft agreement, written by the band’s legal team. ‘Their camp is trying to erase me,’ she said. ‘Trust is important and I no longer trust them.’
Since news of the lawsuit broke, the band has received a wave of criticism from many who have branded their actions – suing a Black woman for copyright to a name they only recently changed to rid it of its connotations with slavery and racism – ‘hypocritical’.
Some said their actions ‘defeated the purpose’ of what they were supposedly trying to do in the first place, while others said their actions perfectly demonstrated their white privilege.
White hasn’t responded to the group’s most recent statement, but did yesterday share a photo of herself on Twitter alongside the words: ‘No Weapon formed against me shall prosper.’
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