Real Lady A: Lady Antebellum wanted to do a song with me ‘so they looked woke’

In June, as Black Lives Matter protests held the Nation’s spotlight, the Nashville band Lady Antebellum issued a statement that they were Changing their name to Lady A. Almost as soon as they made this grand proclamation, we learned that blues singer Anita White had been performing as Lady A, for decades. The Nashville band, now Lady A, has held the trademark on the name since 2010. However, they kept pushing the narrative that they would work with Anita to find a solution and thus, solve racism, like, forever. Unfortunately, Anita said that’s all their efforts are, a narrative. And their actions are performative. When it came time to find a solution that was beneficial to both parties, the Band just dismissed Anita. Sheinelle Jones from Today spoke with Anita about her side of the story.

When was the last time she spoke with anyone in the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum now going by Lady A?
It’s been about two or three weeks.

Does that make any difference their intention why they’re dropping ‘Antebellum’?
Their intention is good, I applaud them for that. But you can’t go from Antebellum to A and think that nobody knows what it still stands for, that that was your nickname, and everybody knows it still stands for Antebellum, what change have you actually made?

For people saying, why not just coexist if you have different fan bases, what is your reaction? So, as soon as they put a CD out as Lady A, they wiped me off totally. Off Amazon, iTunes and Spotify. Because they have more fans than I do. So we made suggestions and they dismissed us. I said, ‘why don’t you be Lady A the Band and I will be Lady A the Artist. You want to be an ally, an allyship means you give up something sometimes. And it requires that you put action behind your words.

We said, why don’t you take me, Lady A, Anita, and put me under your management company, rebrand me. They didn’t address it in the contracts, they didn’t address it when speaking with them – I started to feel like, ‘you know what, you’re just dismissing me.’ They wanted to do a song together. Then I started to feel, so this is the song and dance routine you want me to do so that you look woke to everybody else and then, I would just disappear. Because you can’t have two Lady As – and that’s been proven.

When you said you were thinking why don’t you bring me on under you, would your name still be Lady A or were you saying you would do a whole new name?
A whole new name. I was willing to bend, in order to bring about camaraderie and for me, that was giving up a lot. But I was willing to do it in the name of community.

[From Today via YouTube]

In the name of enlightenment, the band attempted to erase a Black woman from the career she’d created for herself. All because they could. They knew they would wipe Anita off everything the minute they released anything under that name. And their label knew it too. They also know they hold the legal upper hand by having the trademark, that’s why they rejected all Anita’s counter offers and compromises. Their solution was to perform together in a show of solidarity that benefited them and them alone. Sheinelle asked Anita about the $10M she’d asked for from the band, the request that prompted their suing her. Anita explained it was $5 million for her to rebrand after they refused her their management’s help. The other $5M was simply the donation the band claimed they’d intended to make to BLM causes. Anita just asked that she get to designate which organizations got the money. When Today reached out to the band for a comment on the story, they referred them back to their July 8th statement, with their version of the $10M request:

She (Anita) 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. We hope Anita and the advisors she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.

It’s painfully clear that all these people did by changing their name was exploit an emotionally raw, historic experience that didn’t belong to them and use it to their advantage. Nothing they have done backs up their hollow words of growth and community. They should’ve just been honest and renamed themselves Lady Carpetbagger.

As Craig Melvin said at the end of this clip, this was a great discussion. I only transcribed the first part above, but I recommend watching the whole segment. Anita is very clear in her objective and Sheinelle gives her the perfect platform from which to speak.

Also Anita pointed out how Lady A’s fellow Nashville superstar Taylor Swift chose her misstep to become an ally and not an oppressor.


Photo credit: Instagram, WENN/Avalon and YouTube

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18 Responses to “Real Lady A: Lady Antebellum wanted to do a song with me ‘so they looked woke’”

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  1. TheOtherOne says:

    Isn’t the US a first to use country? That is who ever used the trademark first owns It despite if others filed afterwards. I’m not a lawyer but Im opened to correction.

    • janine says:

      What was explained to me that Lady AntiBLM will argue that Lady A forfeited her trademark when she did not contest their filing. What I don’t get is how it doesn’t work the same way in the other direction. Lady AntiBLM never contested Lady A’s use until now. Plus there are their public statements actions acknowledging Lady A’s connection to the name prior to the lawsuit. I don’t think they intend to win in court so much as suck the life out of Lady A, but it will be a Pyrrhic victory.

  2. Lindy says:

    The more I hear about this whole situation, the more despicable that band sounds. The song definitely sounds like a pr move to make it look like everything is all fine and dandy, nothing to see here, look–she even did a song with us, no issues at all! Gross.

  3. Melissai says:

    Anita makes a lot of great points. I can’t imagine waking up to see your hard work demolished. They trademarked Lady A years ago, but only switched to using it to appear woke. They’re not. They now appear petty.

  4. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    Team Lady A the Artist. Lady Carpetbagger is an appropriate band name.

    • Nana says:

      I’m feeling them more as Lady Arses…

      • HeyJude says:

        Yes, I was thinking they should just call themselves Lady A-Holes.

        (My apologies if anyone else here has already made that obvious, obligatory joke.)

  5. Betsy says:

    “Carpetbagger” is still good a name for them, though I understand it’s a word with negative connotations. But why does it have negative connotations? Because of the Northerners that came during Reconstruction? Weren’t they, in theory at least, a force for good? I don’t know, I think they should just rename themselves Lady Performative or Lady Fake Woke. Lady Asleep. Lady Botox, from the looks of them.

    Because those weeks ago when they changed the name, I applauded them (softy, I mean I can refer to my comments but I don’t think I was standing and cheering) but now I just feel stupid that I thought they had exhibited growth.

    • Sarah says:

      I can’t answer your carpetbagger question (I’m curious myself) but I’m with you totally on the second point. This is a perfect examples of making grand gestures to look good and ride a particular moment but absolutely not engaging with the true spirit behind it. They look worse as a result but I wonder how many people will really care?

    • Lizzie Bathory says:

      Carpetbaggers were northerners who saw business/investment opportunities in the chaos of the post-war south. They were perceived as having stated good intentions but in actuality being outsiders who intended to exploit southerners for profit. So it’s a great fit for this situation. How true the perception of individual “carpetbaggers” was is probably impossible to tell. It’s so mired in prejudice & the deep resentments of southerners during the reconstruction period.

      • osito says:

        Exactly. Growing up in the south, I was lucky to have African American state and national history teachers who were able to introduce me to the idea that the prevailing narrative (carpetbaggers = northern meddling and opportunism = bad) was not entirely the whole picture. Carpetbaggers were also seen as “meddling” for doing things like: being black and well educated and becoming politicians in Reconstruction era Southern communities; opening schools for formerly enslaved peoples and their children; and enforcing federal laws that protected formerly enslaved peoples as they established new social and economic communities outside the institutions being rebuilt by former slave holders. So calling Lady AntiBLM makes sense if there’s no acknowledgement of the fact that “carpetbagger” is a complicated and loaded term.

  6. Valiantly Varnished says:

    She’s right. The A still stands for Antebellum. It was an empty gesture for woke points.

  7. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    Totally shallow, I know, but isn’t the Real Lady A. quite shockingly beautiful?

  8. Stellainnh says:

    Ever since I heard about Lady Antebellum stealing Lady A’s name, I immediately began following her and bought some of her music.

    She is wonderful.

  9. Shmadis says:

    I have never commented here before and I’d like to add something that I read earlier about this. Maybe a legal-type or attorney can clarify. My understanding is that the trademark of ‘Lady A’ was solely for the band’s merchandise and NOT for their music, thus Real Lady A does have a legitimate claim to have the name for HER music. I also believe that the $10 million dollar settlement that Real Lady A proposed is a reasonable amount. It appears that Real Lady A put forth several compromises and suggestions, all of which were blown off by the Carpet-cabbages. It may be more complicated than that, and Lady Carpetbagger is how I will think of that band from now on.

  10. lucy2 says:

    She’s made excellent points, and is handling this whole thing so well. She’s not backing down, and she’s telling the truth about them.

    For the love of all that is holy, why aren’t they just changing their name?!? This is so bad for them.

  11. Sarah says:

    Really appreciate hearing her viewpoint. I think the $10m seemed a bit opportunist initially, but when you hear her explanation and the fact that she had provided previous alternatives, the band have behaved appallingly towards her.