The country group Lady Antebellum recently succumbed to the culture chaos when the announced they would be changing their name to Lady A in a bid to be sensitive to the racial connotations of their original name.
“[O]ur hearts have been stirred with conviction, our eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality and biases black women and men have always faced and continue to face every day. … After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest black friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word ‘antebellum’ from our name and move forward… When we set out together almost 14 years ago, we named our band after the southern ‘antebellum’ style home where we took our first photos. … But we are 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. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued. Causing pain was never our hearts’ intention, but it doesn’t change the fact that indeed, it did just that.”
Unfortunately, the move was so rash they didn’t take the time to research whether or not that name belonged to another performer. Indeed it did. Lady A is a New Orleans based blues singer who has used the moniker for over 20 years. She also happens to be black. She expressed her bewilderment at the move in an interview with Rolling Stone last month.
“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 says, her voice breaking. “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,” she adds. “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?”
The members of Lady A (the band, not the blues singer) jumped to express their apologies at the mix-up, even setting up a call with the chanteuse to discuss the issue and perhaps work out some arrangements. In a public statement following the meeting, the band described it as productive. Now it turns out it may not have been very productive at all.
Billboard is reporting that Lady A(ntebellum) has now moved to sue the singer Lady A over trademarking rights.
In the suit, the trio says the group has used Lady Antebellum and Lady A interchangeably as early as 2006-2007, and includes a page from its website 2008 that cites the band by the nickname, as well as several other references to the band as Lady A through the years.
In May 2010, according to the suit and U.S. Patent and Trademark Office filings reviewed by Billboard, the band applied to register Lady A for entertainment purposes, including live musical performances and streaming musical programming. After there was no opposition filed by any person or entity, the application was registered on July 26, 2011. Further applications to register the name for musical recordings and clothing were also granted after there was no opposition.
The band claimed in a public statement that negotiations that may have included a musical collaboration with Lady A fell apart after she demanded $10 million dollars in compensation.
Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended. 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. It was a stirring in our hearts and reflection on our own blindspots that led us to announce a few weeks ago that we were dropping the word ‘Antebellum’ from our name and moving forward using only the name so many of our fans already knew us by. When we learned that Ms. White had also been performing under the name Lady A, we had heartfelt discussions with her about how we can all come together and make something special and beautiful out of this moment. We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn’t also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will – today’s action doesn’t change that. Instead, we shared our stories, listened to each other, prayed and spent hours on the phone and text writing a song about this experience together. We felt we had been brought together for a reason and saw this as living out the calling that brought us to make this change in the first place. We’re disappointed that we won’t be able to work together with Anita for that greater purpose. We’re still committed to educating ourselves, our children and doing our part to fight for the racial justice so desperately needed in our country and around the world. We’ve only taken the first small steps and will prioritize racial equality as a key pillar of the work of LadyAID, specifically leaning into supporting and empowering our youth. We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.”
While Lady A(ntebellum) seems to have no intention of denying the singer the right to continue using her name and branding, the move certainly does come with some bad optics considering the nature of the kerfuffle in the first place.
Perhaps it would have been smarter to simply take some time to consider the name change and all the possible consequences instead of jumping right on the a social justice bandwagon that was already on fire.