Anita White, a black gospel singer who has performed under the name “Lady A” for decades, is firing back after the country music group formerly known as Lady Antebellum filed a lawsuit against her over the legal use of the name.
In an op-ed published by Rolling Stone, White said that the members of the band are trying to use their “white privilege” to take her down, adding that they are trying to “appropriate” a name she’s used for most of her career in order to “change the narrative.”
“They want to appropriate something I used for decades. Just because I don’t have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter,” she wrote. “They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me, and not by telling the entire truth. I don’t think of myself as a victim, but I’ve worked too long and too hard to just walk away and say I’ll share the name with them.”
The band, which is comprised of musicians Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood, claims in the lawsuit that it has used the trademark “Lady A” for several years. White, however, is claiming that the band is only changing their name because of the racial tensions that have emerged in the U.S. in the wake of the death of George Floyd.
“Not wanting a name that is a reminder to many black folks of how so much was taken from us: our freedom, languages, families, and even our names makes sense,” she wrote. “However, to do so by taking the name on which I, a Black woman, have built my career in the music industry for over 20 years, is ironic.
“Lady Antebellum to Lady A didn’t change the connotation or yield to them being inclusive,” White added. “They are yet again using their privilege to take because I don’t want to share in the name. They brought this to the forefront. I didn’t. If they had been true to their word, their name would have completely changed. They have the means and the power.”
White admitted to saying the band could have the name if they paid her $10 million, adding that half of the money would be donated to the Black Lives Matter movement. The band, however, was not interested in paying her.
“They came back with their agreement, which didn’t address my concerns, and I knew what they wanted,” she wrote. “They wanted a story that showed us getting along. They wanted me to make them look good in the eyes of the public, and that’s why that Zoom call was so important to them. It wasn’t important to me. I went along with it figuring maybe they’d keep at their word, but that didn’t happen.”
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White accused the band of publicizing her desire to get paid just to make her look bad.
“They do this to make me look bad, like I’m just out for the money,” she added. “I didn’t need their money before. I have a job that I’m retiring from, and I have music that I do. My life was happy before I met them. I do community work. You need to understand if you’re going to be an ally, you need to speak up bravely about what is going on. And if they’re saying they’re an ally, they are lying to the American public.”
It’s safe to say that this effort to appear “woke” has blown up in face of the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum.