Following unfruitful negotiations over the name, the country-music trio Lady A, formerly Lady Antebellum, is suing Anita White, a Seattle-based blues and gospel singer who has performed as Lady A for decades.
"Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended," the Grammy Award-winning group said in a long statement to Newsday. "She and her team have demanded a $10 million payment, so reluctantly we have come to the conclusion that we need to ask a court to affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A, a trademark we have held" since the mid-2000s.
The suit filed Wednesday in federal court in Nashville, Tennessee, where the band Lady A is based, asks for no monetary damages but a judgment that the trio's trademarked name does not infringe upon "any of White's claimed rights in 'Lady A,' " according to a copy of the filing.
White, who turns 62 on July 18 and has been performing as Lady A for more than 20 years, did not respond to a Newsday request for comment. On Thursday, she wrote on Instagram, "No Weapon formed against me will prosper," a paraphrase of Isaiah 54:17, rendered in the King James Bible as "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper." She additionally posted graphical text reading, "God has a purpose for your pain, a reason for your struggles and a reward for your faithfulness. Don't give up!"
"We never even entertained the idea that she shouldn't also be able to use the name Lady A, and never will — today's action doesn't change that," the band's statement said, adding, "We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute."
Last month, the band announced that it was changing its name to Lady A to dissociate themselves from the term "antebellum," which is used to describe a time period before war, especially the Civil War. At the time of their announcement, the group said it had not considered the pre-Civil War "associations that weigh down this word," including ties to slavery. The name change came in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A," the country music band posted on social media on June 15. "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." White posted the same message on her social media.
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A trademark search finds the word mark "Lady A" registered by Lady A Entertainment LLC for various entertainment and clothing uses. A British company has that word mark for a variety of products from cosmetics to food. White has no evident trademark registration on record.