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A Seattle blues singer slammed country band Lady Antebellum for the woke decision to change their name without doing any research beforehand.
Hours after the Grammy-winning trio announced they would be renamed Lady A because of the supposed association of the word antebellum to slavery, an actual Lady A called out their “pure privilege” and blasted the move that could disrupt her professional career.
Anita White, a 61-year-old singer who has gone by the name Lady A for more than two decades, expressed her frustrations and concerns to Rolling Stone over what effect the renamed band will have on her career, both professionally and legally.
“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,” an emotional White told the publication.’
“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,” she added.
White, who works with Seattle Public Utilities, has reportedly performed under the name Lady A since the 1980s. The singer has also released several albums under the name with another, “Lady A: Live in New Orleans,” due out next month.
“It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them,” she told Rolling Stone. “If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn’t they?”
Lady Antebellum announced to their millions of social media followers Thursday that their “eyes opened wide” in the wake of protests of the death of George Floyd and, for the first time since they launched the band in 2006, they would be sporting a new name.
Grammy Award-winning Lady Antebellum changes band name with groveling apology https://t.co/Ry8rDlPWCS
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) June 11, 2020
“When we set out together almost 14 years ago, we named our band after the Southern ‘Antebellum’ style where we took our first photos,” the band explained, noting the influences of rock, blues, gospel and R&B music.
“But we are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before the Civil War, which includes slavery. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused,” their message continued.
A representative for the band told Rolling Stone that they were not aware of White and her use of the Lady A moniker, saying that they would reach out to the singer.
Though White has reportedly not taken part in George Floyd protests, she has advocated for social justice causes, written music and is planning to hold a virtual panel discussion on race issues. She shared her concerns about the legal issues over her professional name, noting that she has a business trademark for Lady A LLC but is unsure if that will be enough to protect her.
“I don’t know if [the new Lady A] are going to give me a cease-and-desist. I don’t know how they’d react. But I’m not about to stop using my name,” White said.
“It’s about who is first to use a name. Audience size is irrelevant,” music attorney Bob Celestin told Rolling Stone.
“And the question is, does the original Lady A have a trademark registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark office? If she does, she can go ahead and sue Lady Antebellum for infringement. If not, she still has a common law trademark and she can still show that she’s been using the name in commerce — records, posters, tour flyers — for a number of years,” Celestin added. “She is first to use the mark in commerce, so that gives her a superior right to the name.”
“For them to not even reach out is pure privilege,” White said. “I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me. 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.”
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