The country group Lady A has asked a federal judge in Tennessee to weigh in on its right to use that name following a dispute with Seattle singer Anita White — also known as Lady A.
The Nashville group says White’s attorneys have asked for a multimillion dollar payment due to the trio’s recent formal name change from Lady Antebellum to Lady A, a name White says she has used in some way or another since the 1980s. It’s asking the judge to clear the continued use of the name. The band is not seeking monetary damages.
“Today we are sad to share that our sincere hope to join together with Anita White in unity and common purpose has ended,” the trio of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood said in a statement. “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 for many years.”
White and a representative did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The dispute began last month when the trio announced that, upon reflection, it would formally change its name to Lady A because of the debate around Confederate signifiers. The Latin “ante bellum” is often used to refer to the pre-Civil War era in the South, when slavery was legal.
The Grammy Award-winning band said it chose the name impulsively — it was the style of house in which they sat for their first photo shoot — and has used the Lady A moniker interchangeably since the band’s founding in 2006. The 13-page court filing outlines the different ways the group, best known for the international hit “Need You Now,” has registered the name over the years.
White says she first used the name in the ’80s when she would sing karaoke and has since put out a number of albums under the moniker. She said in an earlier interview that she owns the business Lady A LLC, but is unsure whether that gives her the trademark rights to the name.
The two sides spoke via video teleconference shortly after White objected publicly to the band’s use of the name. The band released a photo of the session, and its publicist said the parties had reached an agreement to share the name. But White later objected to that description, saying she did not in fact reach an agreement to share the name.
The band says in the court filing that it is not attempting to stop White from using the Lady A name, only clarifying its right to use it.
“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 group’s statement said.