The legal team for country trio Lady A filed a lawsuit against blues singer Anita White, who goes by the stage name Lady A, on Wednesday (July 8) after the singer demanded a $10 million payment from the band to allow them to continue to use their trademarked name Lady A.
According to court documents obtained by Country Now, the lawsuit states that the suit “arises from White’s attempt to enforce purported trademark rights in a mark that Plaintiffs have held for more than a decade.” The document goes on to explain that the plaintiffs (the country trio) are seeking a “declaratory judgment that, among other things, their use of their trademarks incorporating ‘Lady A’ do not infringe any of White’s alleged trademark rights in ‘Lady A.'”
The Grammy-winning trio is not seeking any monetary damages, just the right to move forward as Lady A, a federally-registered trademark owned by the band.
Lady A issued the following statement following the lawsuit filing at Nashville’s U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee:
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 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. 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.
The lawsuit comes less than one month after Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, announced plans to change their name given the racial connotations of the term “antebellum.”
The group explained that the change was sparked by the “injustices, inequality and biases Black women and men have always faced and continue to face every day.” They went on to apologize for any “hurt this has caused” to anyone and promised to make a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative through their long-standing charitable organization Lady Aid.
Following the announcement, Anita “Lady A” White spoke with Rolling Stone about the trio’s name change, revealing that she was blindsided by the news.
“This is my life,” she said. “Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done…. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time…. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”
God is good and Communication is key.
So glad to speak with @ladya these amazing young people. Together Change is possible in this world. #TheTruthIsLoud #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist pic.twitter.com/hpDSMboj1h
— Lady A (@ladiawhite) June 16, 2020
Several days later, Lady A and White met via Zoom for a conversation that, according to social media, seemed to go really well. According to Lady A’s statement, they even wrote a song together and hoped to collaborate in the future.
“We had [a] meeting today and we’re looking forward to a beneficial outcome for both parties. We’re making progress,” the solo artist Lady A told Billboard via email on June 15
The suit states that the trio and solo singer discussed peacefully coexisting and that the trio would “support White’s musical career” in the future.
After those conversations took place, the band’s legal team drafted an agreement, which White was reportedly not happy with.
“Their camp is trying to erase me…. Trust is important and I no longer trust them,” the singer told Newsday.