Anita White — the Seattle-based blues singer who has been performing under the name Lady A for several decades — revealed a new song called ”My Name Is All I Got” on Tuesday (Dec. 15) as a powerful (musical) response to a heated battle over the moniker that has been happening since July.
It was then that the country group formerly known as Lady Antebellum decided to change their name to Lady A in acknowledgement of the term Antebellum’s association with the pre-Civil War South and slavery. The following day, White spoke out via Rolling Stone to oppose the trio’s name change, expressing her disgust that they hadn’t consulted her before announcing it and arguing that the change amounted to appropriation of the musical identity of a Black performer.
In “My Name Is All I Got,” White underscores those feelings, pointing out that usurping her name is tantamount to erasing who she is as an artist: ”They tried to take my name / My name is all I got,” she intones in the gospel-inspired chorus of the song, accompanied by a backdrop of rhythmic hand-clapping. “I’ve come too far to turn around / I can’t, I won’t stop now …”
The single is available to stream on Spotify.
In the months since the country trio announced their intent to change their name, a bitter back-and-forth between the two acts has ensued. After realizing their oversight, the band got in touch with White and engaged in “talks” in an attempt to reach a compromise. But those discussions ultimately broke down. The band says that White’s lawyers asked for a $10 million payment in order for her to part ways with her stage name, and in July, they stated that they were filing a lawsuit to ask a court to “affirm our right to continue to use the name Lady A,” which they trademarked in 2011.
For her part, White explained that the money she asked for would have been split between her own rebranding efforts as well as charities supporting Black artists and other performers who found themselves in situations like hers. She countered that the band’s gestures towards peaceful resolution were ultimately hollow, arguing that their actions were counterproductive to their purported goals of ally-ship in dropping the “Antebellum” from their name to begin with.
Two months after the band’s lawsuit, White counter-sued for trademark infringement, arguing that she had “accrued common law rights in the Lady A trademark” through her use of the name since the early ’90s.
“If you want to be an advocate or an ally, you help those who you’re oppressing,” White says, “And that might require you to give up something because I am not going to be erased.”
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