Country trio Lady Antebellum announced Thursday they are dropping "Antebellum" and will now go by Lady A, claiming they were unaware that the term Antebellum South refers to the period before the Civil War when slavery was still legal. The name change was controversial among the group's fans, and also angered the Seattle blues singer Anita White, who has performed under the name for more than two decades. White called out the group for not doing enough research in a new Rolling Stone interview.
"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, a Black woman, told 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."
So… Lady Antebellum changes their name to Lady A, and in so doing completely ignores and overshadows a Black performer who has gone by that name for 2 decades.
You literally could not find a more perfect example of "performative wokeness" if you tried. https://t.co/vLnEIzg2N0— Brian Gray (@urbanbohemian) June 12, 2020
White noted that if the name change really meant something to Lady Antebellum, they would have done more research. "And I'm not happy about that," White, 61, said. "You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn't they?" She said she does have a business trademark for Lady A LLC but is unsure what she can do next. One thing she is sure of though is she does not plan to stop performing as Lady A.
Lady Antebellum's decision not to reach out is "pure privilege," White said. "I'm not going to lay down and let this happen to me," she continued. "But now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine, and I don’t even know how much I’ll have to spend to keep it."
There is an opening for the publicist and lawyer for Lady A (the country version). https://t.co/T9UyxCtWWf— Jeff Christian (@cjchristian00) June 13, 2020
White started using the name Lady A when she was performing in karaoke nights in the 1980s and performed with a Motown revue group. She has recorded several albums as Lady A, even while she still has a day job with Seattle Public Utilities. Her original material often includes lyrics about racial injustice and is hosting a Zoom panel on race on June 27. She wrote a song inspired by Trayvon Martin and later updated the words after George Floyd's death on May 25.
I love this so very much. In fact, I can’t stop laughing. https://t.co/7iMUH0Jdqt— Ned Ryun (@nedryun) June 12, 2020
On Thursday, Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood announced they would no longer be performing as Lady Antebellum, but as Lady A instead. The group, which started in 2006, apologized for the "hurt" their original name caused. "We've watched and listened more than ever these last 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," the group wrote. "Now, blindspots we didn't even know existed have been revealed."