Singer Anita White Faces Lawsuit Over Stage Name Lady AJuly 21, 2020
The Nashville-based country music band formerly known as Lady Antebellum is suing blues singer Anita White over the use of the stage name Lady A. The country music group, which is comprised of Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott, and Charles Kelley, announced plans to drop “Antebellum” from their name last month due to its association with the history of the South prior to the American Civil War. The change immediately sparked controversy with White, who has used the Lady A stage name in her acts for the past two decades. Upon being informed of the issue, the two parties attempted to come to a compromise.
In an interview with reporters from HLN, White said that conversations with Haywood, Scott, Kelley, and their representatives have not been amicable. While the group appears to show solidarity with White in social media posts, White says that such conversations have been little more than attempts at bullying her. A key sticking point for the Seattle-based blues singer is the band’s use of the name Lady A. While Haywood, Scott, and Kelley do not see a problem with two acts using the moniker Lady A, White says that she is unwilling to share the name. White told reporters that soon after the country music megastars began calling themselves Lady A, all of her social media pages used to promote her work have disappeared. In White’s view, sharing a name with the group is tantamount to the erasure of her career.
Although the band attempted to settle the matter out of court with White, on July 8 their attorneys filed suit against the singer. In documents released with the motion, the band argues that they have been using the moniker “Lady A” interchangeably with “Lady Antebellum” on merchandising and services since 2006 to 2007. To that end, the group was granted a trademark on the name “Lady A” in 2011. Legal papers also allege that during conference calls, White and the country music group began the process of working on a musical collaboration that would be promoted by both parties. The group’s attorneys argue that these talks fell through when White began issuing public statements on the negotiations and demanding large sums of money for the band’s use of the name Lady A.
In another segment of her interview with HLN, White revealed more information on the money that she is seeking from the three singers. White explained that she asked the group for $10 million. $5 million would be given to White directly to help her rebrand and distribute to organizations that help the African American community in Seattle. The other $5 million would be distributed among Black Lives Matter and several charities that help aspiring artists as well as the children and senior citizens of Seattle. White further expressed frustration at the group’s refusal to answer questions she posed to them on social justice issues, saying that the conference calls were intended for them to get what they wanted from her and not to reach a compromise.
For their part, Haywood, Scott, and Kelley are not filing suit against White to prevent her from using the name Lady A. Rather, the trio wants the court’s opinion on if they themselves can legally use the moniker. In social media posts, the group expressed embarrassment at calling themselves Lady Antebellum for the last 14 years. Rather than a commentary on slavery and the social order of the Old South, the three singers say that they chose the name as a tribute to a place from the early part of their career. When the three began performing together, they had their first photoshoot at a house with Antebellum style architecture, which inspired them to call themselves Lady Antebellum.