Blues singer Lady A reacts to country group Lady Antebellum commandeering her name
The musicians formerly known as Lady Antebellum may have another name change, and apology to make in their future.
Earlier this week, the "Need You Now" singers announced they would now be going by Lady A, as to not further glamorize the time before the Civil War the word "antebellum" refers to. But according to a story from Rolling Stone, the band did not run the name by Seattle blues artist Lady A, who has been using the stage name since the 1980s.
In their statement explaining why they were making the change from a moniker that references a time in America during which slavery was thriving, the band wrote "Causing pain was never our hearts' intention, but it doesn't change the fact that indeed, it did just that."
Lady A's counter to the trio, who did not reach out to her before making the change, is "This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it." She adds that their PR move is "an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them. If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that."
In addition to being a singer, Lady A is a black activist who happens to be organizing a panel called "The Truth is Loud" which will discuss the role white people play in conversations about race. The name of the panel comes from a song Lady A has coming out that is in response to George Floyd's death.
As far as legal standing goes, whether she has a trademark on Lady A or not, the blues singer likely still has more of a right to the name than the country singers, having a 30-year head start on them in using Lady A on records, tour flyers, and other merchandise.
A coexisting agreement is an option, but blues and country are intersecting genres, and Lady A says she does not plan on backing down. “For them to not even reach out is pure privilege. I’m not going to lay down and let this happen to me. But now the burden of proof is on me to prove that my name is in fact mine, and I don’t even know how much I’ll have to spend to keep it.”
In the initial note on their name change, the country artists wrote "our eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality, and biases black women and men have always faced and continue to face every day. Now, blind spots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.”
They have yet to respond to news they overlooked the already existing artist Lady A.