Seattle blues singer Anita White, who was sued by a country band over the use of the name Lady A, says the group is using their white privilege against her.
The band, who had previously been known as Lady Antebellum, filed a lawsuit in federal court last week seeking a ruling that their use of the trademark “Lady A” does not infringe on White’s use of the same name. The band is not seeking monetary damages.
The Grammy-winning band made up of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, who are all white, changed their name last month, amid the George Floyd protests, saying they are regretful and embarrassed for not taking into consideration the word’s associations with slavery.
White, who is Black, told Rolling Stone magazine that she felt like she was being erased. White said she had been performing blues, soul, funk and gospel music as Lady A for more than 20 years. She was nominated as Best Blues Performer of the Year 2020 by the Washington Blues Society.
“They claim to be allies and that they wanted to change their name out of the racist connotation, and then they sue a Black woman for the new name,” White told the publication.
White, 61, said in negotiations with the band over the use of the name, she requested $10 million, half of which she would use to rebrand herself and the other half she would donate to charities of her choice, including those associated with Black Lives Matter.
“I have to rebrand myself. I don’t want to have to share a name with you. And you shouldn’t be allowed to just get a slap on the wrist,” White said. “I wanted my name. 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,” she said.
The lawsuit said that the country band filed for a trademark for the name “Lady A” back in 2010.
Born and raised in Seattle, White played in the Motown group in the 1980s called Lady A & the Baby Blues Funk band for 18 years and then went solo on tour. She has released four solo albums, debuting in 2010. Her fifth album will be released this Saturday.
She also operates Lady A Productions, serving gospel and blues artists, and hosts two music shows on NWCZ Radio online: “Lady A’s Gumbo & Gospel” and “Black N Blues (the B side).”
Egan’s Ballard Jam House in Seattle is home of Lady A’s Back Porch Blues shows, which she performed once a month before COVID-19 hit.
“I shares stories of lyrics in songs I’ve written, talk about race and social justice, and sing gospel so that audiences understand where blues and soul music comes from,” she told The Daily Herald.
An activist, White’s own music’s subject matter has included racial activism such as about the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the killing of George Floyd.
Her albums are as follows: “BlueZ in the Key of Me” (2010), “How Did I Get Here” (2013), “Loved, Blessed and Blues” (2016) and “Doin’ Fine” (2018). Her fifth solo album, titled “Lady A: Live in New Orleans” is set to release July 18.
If you stream
Lady A is hosting a live-stream CD release party for “Lady A: Live in New Orleans” on 7 p.m. July 18 via her Facebook page, www.facebook.com/LadyABluesDiva. The release party, which will be recorded at Egan’s Ballard Jam House in Seattle, will also serve as a birthday bash — July 18 is Lady A’s birthday. She will be turning 62 years old. For more information, go to www.ladyababyblues.com.