Lady Antebellum Is Changing Their Name Amid Black Lives Matter Protests

Emily Tannenbaum

UPDATE: July 10, 2020—Anita “Lady A” White has responded to Lady Antebellum's new lawsuit against her in a new interview with Vulture

“I think they always knew what they were gonna do,” she said.

“The first contract they sent [on June 30] had no substance,” White said. “It said that we would coexist and that they would use their best efforts to assist me on social-media platforms, Amazon, iTunes, all that. But what does that mean? I had suggested on the Zoom call that they go by the Band Lady A, or Lady A the Band, and I could be Lady A the Artist, but they didn’t want to do that.”

In the interview, White also addresses the reported $10 million the band claims she asked for, saying she was planning to use $5 million to rebrand and $5 million “was to be donated to the charities of her choice, including organizations that provide support to other independent Black artists.”

"I was quiet for two weeks because I was trying to believe that it was going to be okay and that they would realize that it would be easier to just change their name, or pay me for my name,” she continued. “Five million dollars is nothing, and I’m actually worth more than that, regardless of what they think. But here we go again with another white person trying to take something from a Black person, even though they say they’re trying to help. If you want to be an advocate or an ally, you help those who you’re oppressing. And that might require you to give up something because I am not going to be erased.”

UPDATE: July 9, 2020—The band formerly known as Lady Antebellum is now suing Anita White, the 61-year-old Black blues singer who has been using their new name, Lady A, for many years, filing a lawsuit against her in a Tennessee court on July 8. 

According to court documents obtained by People, the band’s lawyers allege that White’s legal counsel “delivered a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand.”

The band released a lengthy statement, which you can read below:

“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’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. 

“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.”

White has not yet responded. 

But people on social media sure did. 

UPDATE: June 12, 2020— Yesterday the country band formerly known as Lady Antebellum announced they were changing their name to Lady A. But here’s the thing: Anita White—a 61-year-old Black blues artist—has been using that name for years.

“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,” White said in an interview with Rolling Stone. “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.”

White also pointed out that this controversy could have been avoided if the band had researched the name first. “It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them,” she said. “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?”

According to Rolling Stone, a rep for Lady Antebellum said the trio was “not aware of the other artist and plans to reach out to her.”

“I’m not about to stop using my name,” White said. “For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me.” Read the full interview here.

ORIGINAL STORY: June 11, 2020— Lady Antebellum—a.k.a. the wildly popular Grammy-winning country artists behind “Need You Now”—will henceforth be known as Lady A.

Amid worldwide Black Lives Matter protests and topplings of Confederate statues, the trio announced on June 11 that they are “regretful and embarrassed” over choosing a name that invokes nostalgia for a period of time before the Civil War when slavery was prevalent and legal.

“Dear fans,” the group members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood began their statement, which appears on their Twitter and Instagram accounts. “We have strived for our music to be a refuge…inclusive of all. We’ve watched and listened more than ever these past few weeks, and our 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. Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.

“After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer, and many honest discussions with some of our closest friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word antebellum from our name and move forward as Lady A, the nickname our fans gave us almost from the start,” the statement continued.

Lady A goes on to explain their inspiration for their original name while apologizing for the pain they’ve caused. “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. As musicians, it reminded us of all the music born in the South that influenced us…Southern rock, blues, R&B, gospel, and of course country,” they explained.

This mentality, of course, is not so dissimilar to destructive arguments that the Confederate flag is a celebration of “Southern culture” and not a symbol of hate. As of June 10, NASCAR finally made the decision to ban the flag from its events.

The band continued, “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. So today, we speak up and make a change. We hope you will dig in and join us.”

Lady A concluded their statement by promising more action beyond removing antebellum from their name. In addition, the band will also be donating to the Equal Justice Initiative, although they did not specify an amount.

“We feel like we have been Awakened, but this is just one step,” they wrote. “There are countless more that need to be taken. We want to do better. We are committed to examining our individual and collective impact and making the necessary changes to practice antiracism. We will continue to educate ourselves, have hard conversations and search the parts of our hearts that need pruning—to grow into better humans, better neighbors. Our next outward step will be a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative through LadyAID. Our prayer is that if we lead by example…with humility, love, empathy and action…we can be better allies to those suffering from spoken and unspoken injustices, while influencing our children & generations to come.”

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Originally Appeared on Glamour

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