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Former ‘Lady Antebellum’ Settles Legal Battle Over ‘Lady A’ Name Change

17 February 2022 | 10:56 am | Mallory Arbour

The band dropped 'Antebellum' over racist connotations, but a black singer said she'd already used 'Lady A' for decades.

More Lady A More Lady A

Country trio Lady A – formally known as Lady Antebellum – and Seattle-based blues singer Anita White, whose stage name is also Lady A, have settled their lawsuit out of court.

In a motion filed on January 31 in Nashville federal court, both parties asked a federal judge to dismiss their duelling lawsuits permanently. The terms of the agreement, including who can continue to use what name or if any money changed hands, were not made public.

Back in 2020, the Grammy-winning group, comprised of members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, announced they were changing their name to that of the blues singer in response to the Black Lives Matter movement, as the word Antebellum has associations to slavery in the US, and they later launched legal action against the solo artist over their shared moniker, asking for a declaration that they aren't infringing on a trademark in using the name.

Just one problem: White said she had used the exact same name since the 1980s, performing as “Lady A” thousands of times at concerts and festivals across the country. White, a black woman, called the band’s adoption of her long-standing name an example of “pure privilege.”

The country trio claimed White "demanded a $10m payment" from them, and White claimed the action was taken to make her "look bad", even though she planned to donate half the sum to charity and use the rest to rebrand herself. She filed a countersuit against the band for “lost sales, diminished brand identity, and diminution in the value of and goodwill associated with the mark.”

White had spoken to frontwoman, Scott about the group's proposed name change and warned her there would still be racist connotations but claimed the singer had no response. And the singer wanted the group to change their name completely, which would prove they are true "allies".

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The group previously admitted they were "so naive" to have been known as Lady Antebellum for so long. Kelley also admitted they had a "blind spot" for a long time about how offensive their moniker could have been to people.

He said, "I think the word to me that resonates the most this year has been ‘blind spot.’ And I think I am so guilty of… I didn’t think about it. We came up with the name thinking about the antebellum home… I don’t know. It’s so naive now looking back, but I think, as we’ve grown up, we all have kids now. Well, we’re a lot older, we look at the world a lot different. We’re trying to leave the world a little bit better, too, for our kids and the next generation. And we want to be a part of change.”