Anita “Lady A” White spelled out her stage name squabble with country trio Lady A, formerly known as Lady Antebellum, in an interview with ABC News Prime yesterday (July 14).
“I have built this name for decades before they were born, and I’ve been building it,” the 61-year-old singer argued as part of her case during the TV segment. She later compared the “grind” of independent musicians to BIPOC, or Black, Indigenous people of color, saying “Sometimes all we have is our name. We don’t want to have that taken from us. Our culture gets taken, our music gets taken. This is more important for those that come behind me.”
In June, the country trio (Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and David Haywood) announced on Instagram that they were abbreviating the notorious stage name they’ve been going by since 2006, which dates back to the pre-Civil War South heavily fueled by slavery, after undergoing “much personal reflection” regarding the Black Lives Matter movement. But the Seattle-based blues singer told Rolling Stone that she felt blindsided by their new announcement because she’s been performing and recording as “Lady A” since 1987.
White told ABC News Live anchor Linsey Davis that the resulting miscommunication between the band and the blues singer stemmed from her confusion about co-existing under the same moniker. The musician felt “disregarded” and ignored when she asked the country act’s lawyers what exactly it meant to co-exist on three separate occasions. During their “transparent, honest, and authentic conversations” over Zoom that the band Lady A documented on Instagram last month, the singer Lady A asked the same question.
“I’ve put out five CDs under Lady A. They have not put one CD under Lady A,” she said. “That’s their nickname. This is my professional name.”
For the purposes of holding people accountable as part of her work in race and social justice, the singer Lady A cited that the band Lady A first brought up the Black Lives Matter movement when announcing the name change. White claimed that sincere allyship sometimes requires giving something up, the stage name in this case. She recalled feeling excited when the Grammy award-winning band offered to work on a song with her, but she wasn’t willing to check the box to be the “token person so that you look woke.”
Billboard previously reported earlier in July that the band filed a lawsuit against the singer after she “delivered a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand” of $10 million. The dollar amount breaks down to $5 million personal compensation for rebranding and another $5 million for charity, as White believes that’s the price tag for the life she wishes to return to but can’t under normal circumstances.
“If I’m going to have to rebrand myself as something else, because I can’t share a name with you… I decided well, maybe rebranding might be the thing to do. Even though I would have to explain that to my community, I’d have to explain it to the kids that I mentor,” the singer said. “I thought, ‘Well, you know what? I can take $5 million, rebrand myself, change all my CDs….’ Nobody knows what goes into rebranding. The other $5 million? I had asked my lawyers if they could be broken into three charities. One would be Black Lives Matter because Lady Antebellum said so.”
The other two causes she hopes to support include senior citizens and young adults in her Seattle community as well as U.S. musicians struggling with legal issues.
Watch the singer’s interview with ABC News Live below.