Country trio Lady A filed a lawsuit against Seattle-based blues singer Anita White, who also goes by Lady A, this week after negotiations between the two acts regarding the name stalled, and White has now spoken out after the band's suit. "They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me and by not telling the entire truth," she told Rolling Stone. "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. 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."
White, who has been performing as Lady A since 1987, found herself in headlines last month after the band Lady A announced that it was changing its name due to connotations of racism and slavery. The next day, White said that she was disappointed the band had not contacted her, and the two acts went on to have what the blues singer described as "many personal discussions, texts and insincere phone calls." She said, "I knew what they wanted. They wanted a story that showed us getting along. They wanted me to make them look good in the eyes of the public."
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On Wednesday, Lady A filed a lawsuit against White asking a court to allow them to lawfully use the name Lady A and stating that they had trademarked the name in 2010. The suit is not seeking monetary damages and is asking that both parties "continue to co-exist." White told Rolling Stone that she has no interest in co-existing with the band and feels that Lady A did not want to engage in conversations with her about anything other than that idea.
"In our conversations, I told them, I didn’t think coexistence would work," she recalled. "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 claimed that her fans are now having more trouble finding their music due to Lady A's name change and that she had more difficulty verifying her name to upload her recent single "The Truth Is Loud." In the suit, Lady A stated that White had asked for $10 million, and White told Rolling Stone that the statement didn't tell the full story. The $10 million she asked for would have been split between herself and donations to Black Lives Matter, a charity for seniors and youth in Seattle, and musicians in need of legal counsel. She would have used $5 million to rebrand herself, which she considers "the best thing" for her to do."
"It’s only right that I should be able to rebrand myself in order to continue to serve my fans, my community and the artists and upcoming artists I mentor and teach along with my other community activities as an activist," she said. White went on to add that her "ideal situation" would be for Lady A to change its band name. "If they are in fact allies, they have the resources, they have the money, they can change their name," she said, having pointed out earlier in the piece that the name Lady A still has racist connotations because it is an abbreviation of the word "Antebellum." She goes on to say, "It wouldn’t cost them a dime. We have to remember the reason for the name change. If that wasn’t the true reason for the name change, none of this makes sense."