“All I ever wanted was to keep my name in the blues genre doing what I did. I should not have to bend to [the band’s] will because they’ve got money.”
Earlier this week, the group formerly known as Lady Antebellum made the baffling decision to voluntarily obliterate any shred of good will they had by suing Anita White, known as blues-funk performer Lady A for over 20 years, for the shared use of her stage name. Since the beginning of this debacle, White has stood her ground, refusing to surrender her professional identity to the award-winning outfit. The vocalist spoke through Rolling Stone and detailed her side of the story.
“They want to change the narrative by minimizing my voice, by belittling me and by not telling the entire truth,” White said of the country trio. “I don’t think of myself as a victim, but I’ve worked too long and too hard to just walk away and say I’ll share the name with them. They want to appropriate something I used for decades. Just because I don’t have 40 million fans or $40 million, that should not matter.” She continued: “At this point, I’m not surprised by anything they would do. When they talked about how talks broke down, they never talked outside of trying to get me to do what they wanted me to do, which is coexist, and that’s something I never wanted. I stand by that.”
The blues singer also stated that the band promised ensure her digital presence by making sure that she wasn’t “buried” behind the popular band. But as White notes, the damage is already done. We checked it out for ourselves: If you do a simple search for “Lady A” in YouTube, the first results lead to the country group, not the singer. You have to search for the term “Anita White” or “Lady A White” in order to actually pull up her page. “Before them, my name was under theirs; I could find myself easily, no problem. Now you can’t find me anywhere, so their ability to keep their word was false.”
White goes on to detail the nature of her communication with the band, which consisted of a number of phone calls and texts, all of which White deems “insincere.” According to the solo performer, the group offered a few things—a song collaboration and a documentary, to be specific—but did not waver on the use of the name. Believing that the band only cared to “look good” in the public eye, White decided that she had to rebrand in order to retain her following. She asked for $10 million to not only start over, but to help her community: “So if you’re going to appropriate my name, I thought it was only fair I could rebrand myself with $5 million. I could help my community, I could help my church, I can help other artists. And that other $5 million was supposed to go to Black Lives Matter to help other artists with this very struggle.”
The band has not made any further statements since filing the lawsuit, though we can’t imagine what they could possibly say to make this particular turn look any less opportunistic. Rather than look for reason where there is none, you can read White’s full essay for Rolling Stone here instead.
Looking for ways to advocate for Black lives? Check out this list of resources by our sister site Lifehacker for ways to get involved.