Lady A vs. Lady A

Remember when you were a kid, and you had just gotten a cool new toy for your birthday, and your brother or sister demanded that you let them play with it? And when you wouldn't, they tattled on you to force you to share something that was completely, 100 percent yours in the first place?

"M-o-o-o-o-o-m! He won't share his new toy with me!"

The grown-up version of this is playing out in the courts as Lady A is suing Lady A over the name "Lady A."

That is, The Artists Formerly Known As Lady Antebellum (TAFKALA) are suing blues singer Anita "Lady A" White over their new band name because they want to make her share it even though it's completely, 100 percent hers in the first place.

It all started when the country trio Lady Antebellum made the shocking discovery about the connection between the Antebellum South and slavery.

"Antebellum" is Latin, and it means "before war," in this case, the American Civil War. So, the Antebellum South refers to the time before the Civil War when white people owned Black people, which is the whole reason the war was fought.

By calling themselves Lady Antebellum, they were, in a sense, paying homage to the slave-owning South.

TAFKALA was appropriately shocked — SHOCKED, they say! — to learn about the history of their name a mere 14 years after they adopted it and used it to make millions of dollars and win all kinds of awards.

After finally cracking open a dictionary, and to avoid any further association with racism and slavery, TAFKALA changed their name to "Lady A."

This was all fine and good, except blues singer Anita "Lady A" White, who is Black, has been performing under that name for over 20 years. Six years longer than TAFKALA has been around.

"But our fans have been calling us 'Lady A' since the beginning," wailed TAFKALA.

"That may be," said The Real Lady A — I'm paraphrasing here — "but 20 years is longer than 16 years, so no."

"Please, please, pretty please!" begged TAFKALA. "Maybe we could share it and no one will be confused at all ever. Pinky swear!"

Again, I'm paraphrasing.

So The Real Lady A and her people sat down with TAFKALA and their people on a Zoom call and tried to come to some kind of agreement where both parties could share the name and the band would support the singer, and they could all be bestest friends, and the band totally wouldn't bury the singer's brand on the Internet or anything, pinky swear.

It's like that time you and your sister went halfsies on a toy and she promised to share it, but then totally hogged it and you never got a turn.

Except The Real Lady A wasn't having it. This was her own name that she had used for more than two decades.

She told TAFKALA that she wasn't interested in sharing the name, even though they begged and pleaded over and over and over. And still, she said no, so they kept begging.

The Real Lady A told Rolling Stone magazine, "I’d never asked for a dime, but they weren’t listening to me, and I knew they weren’t being genuine."

To get their attention, The Real Lady A asked TAFKALA for $10 million, which she said she would split between herself and donations to several charities, including Black Lives Matter.

The band called the fee exorbitant and claimed that White didn't challenge their "open, obvious, and widespread nationwide and international use" of the Lady A name.

That's because when you Googled "Lady A," you would find The Real Lady A, not the homage-to-slavery band name. Now that TAFKALA has changed their name, The Real Lady A has been buried online, something TAFKALA swore up and down they would never do.

(See what I mean about your sister never letting you have a turn with the toy?)

Now TAFKALA has gone to court to force The Real Lady A to share the name she's owned for twenty years, and they've had for less than two months.

What's sad about all this is TAFKALA only changed their name after they said they had their "eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality, and biases Black women and men have always faced and continue to face every day."

Once they recognized their privilege and the connection to slavery, they sought to change the name of their band, and that's commendable.

Except when they couldn't get the name they wanted, they used their wealth and privilege to force The Real Lady A to share something that has been hers and hers alone for more than 20 years.

The real irony is that TAFKALA singer Hillary Scott shares her name with a former porn actress, also named Hillary Scott.

It's ironic because, in all of this mess, it's The Real Lady A who's getting screwed.

Photo credit: Lady A press photo

My new humor novel, Mackinac Island Nation, is finished and available on Amazon. You can get the Kindle version here or the paperback version here.