Newly re-christened country trio Lady A is taking legal action against Seattle-based blues singer Anita White, who has been going by the stage name Lady A for over 20 years, after negotiations surrounding the name fell through. Documents viewed by Pitchfork show that the band is suing not for monetary damages or to prohibit White from performing under the name, but so that a court will allow them to lawfully use the trademarked name Lady A.
"Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended," the band said in a statement. "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."
"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," the message continued. "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."
In the documents, filed on Wednesday, the band also said that it applied for trademarks for the name Lady A for entertainment services and for use on clothing and that no oppositions were filed. "Prior to 2020, White did not challenge, in any way, Plaintiffs' open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use of the LADY A mark as a source indicator for Plaintiffs' recorded, downloadable, and streaming music and videos, Plaintiffs' live musical performances, or Plaintiffs' sale of souvenir merchandise," the suit states.
In June, the members of Lady A announced that they were changing their name in order to disassociate them from the racial implications of the word "antebellum," which refers to the pre-Civil War south. The next day, White spoke out and expressed her disappointment that the band did not contact her first. The two parties entered into "transparent, honest, and authentic conversations" but were apparently unable to reach an agreement.