Black blues singer Lady A says Lady Antebellum didn't ask about name change

Last Thursday, the world-renowned country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum announced that they had officially changed their name to Lady A after being “awakened” to the unfortunate historical “associations” with the word “antebellum” in wake of the Black Lives Matter protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd.

“We are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word,” the Nashville-based band wrote in a statement, acknowledging that “antebellum” refers to a period in history before the Civil War, during the height of slavery in the U.S.

On June 12, however, another artist who has gone by the name Lady A for two decades took to Instagram airing her grievances with the Need You Now rockers, suggesting they did not approach her about changing their name.

“I am Pacific NW diva, Lady A. There is only one,” wrote the Black, Seattle-based blues singer (born Anita White), adding “#DoUrHmWrkB4UTakeAName.”

Hours later, in an interview with Rolling Stone, White, 61, said neither the band nor its management team had contacted her seeking her approval or blessing in co-existing as Lady A.

“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,” she told the outlet.

“How can you say Black Lives Matter and put your knee on the neck of another Black artist?” White wrote in a followup Instagram post.

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During the interview, White suggested that the Grammy Award-winning band changed its name simply “because of a Black Lives Matter incident” that “for them,” she said, “is just a moment in time.”

“If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before,” White said. “It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it.”

Floyd, a Black man, died on May 25, after a white police officer kneeled on his neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during an arrest in Minneapolis. He was 46.

His death, and those of many other Black individuals, including Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor, have helped renew calls to fight systemic racism and put an end to police brutality across the world.

In response to the killings and subsequent protests, Lady A, the band, wrote: “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.”

“After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest Black friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word ‘antebellum’ from our name and move forward as Lady A,” they added.

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White said the statement was merely “an opportunity for (the new Lady A) to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them.”

“If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that,” she said. “You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn’t they?”

Though White revealed that she owns a trademark for Lady A LLC, she said she was unsure about what she could do from a legal standpoint, adding that she’d soon contact a lawyer.

“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,” she said.

“For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me.

“Now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine. I don’t even know how much I’ll have to spend to keep it.”

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While it’s unclear if the country trio has since cleared the air with White, a recent Instagram post suggests they are now on good terms.

On Monday evening, both Lady As took to their respective social media platforms sharing a screenshot of a recent video call together.

“Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A,” the musicians wrote in a carbon copy caption. “Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had.

“We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come.”

While they did not share details of the “private” video call, a representative of Lady A, the band, confirmed to Global News that both artists will continue using the moniker Lady A.

Global News has reached out to a representative of Lady A, the singer, seeking comment.

adam.wallis@globalnews.ca

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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