Antebellum and Anita (White)
Written by John Lee
On June 11th, 2020 Lady Antebellum announced via twitter that the country band was changing its name to Lady A. The move, according to the tweet, was in response to nationwide protests sparked after the killing of George Floyd.
The tweet read, “our hearts have been stirred with conviction, our eyes open wide to the injustices, inequality, and biases black women and men have always faced… we have decided to drop the world ‘antebellum’ from our name and move forward as Lady A.”
Soon after the announcement Anita White—a blues singer and a Black woman who had been using the name Lady A for over two decades and had released an album under the same name —was notified about the band’s decision to name change.
White herself then made contact with the band. [CQ]
Initially the two groups got together to discuss the terms of their trademarks. The meetings were seemingly civil, even cordial. After posts on social media from both parties, it appeared as though a consensus would be reached. [CQ]
But these meetings broke down after White’s representatives “demanded a $10 million payment.” [CQ]
On July 8th, the band filed a lawsuit against White to legitimize their legal claims and trademark to the name Lady A. The lawsuit does not entail any fines or funds from White, but if the country band won the case; it would prevent White from pursuing any further legal action concerning the name.
Although White has not disclosed whether she specifically possesses the copyrights to the name, the evidence of its continued and applicable use over two decades far exceeds that of the band previously known as Lady Antebellum. Thus, that sets a solid, albeit not immutable, legal precedence for action. [CQ]
The country band stated their disappointment at the failure to reach a conclusive and an amicable end with White. They and further went on to say, “We hope Anita and the advisors she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach.” [CQ]
“It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them. If it did they would have done some research. And I’m not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily, why couldn’t they?” White said, responding to the bands statements in an interview with Rolling Stone.
This lack of initial effort without the external pressures from the public is what White and many others point to as a clear indication of Lady Antebellum’s insincerity. The situation was improperly handled from the very beginning and the blank served only to reveal a dangerously detached aloof “pure privilege”, as White herself put it.
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