In early 2020, at the height of police brutality and BLM protests, the country music band Lady Antebellum sparked controversy when they decided to change their name to Lady A. Their aim was to distance themselves from the racial connotations associated with the term “Antebellum” and present a more inclusive image. This was one of many moves in the country music world to remove outdated and racially-connotative terms from the predominately white genre.
However, their subsequent actions and the way they handled the situation exhibited so much hypocrisy and ignorance that has led me to make a decision. I have chosen to no longer cover news about this country music act or its members on any of the outlets I write for. I waited a solid year after their “undisclosed settlement” to see how the situation unfolded, but now my stance is firm.
The Name Change:
Lady Antebellum’s decision to change their name to Lady A was initially seen as a positive step towards recognizing and rectifying the historical implications associated with the term “Antebellum.” They acknowledged the need for inclusivity and diversity within their image and intended to align their name with what their fans casually referred to them as.
However, the controversy began when it came to light the group failed to do even a basic intern-level amount of research before just running with their new gameplan. You see, there was already a talented and established blues singer, Anita White, who had been performing under the name Lady A for nearly 30 years. The fact that Anita White was a black musician made the situation even more problematic.
Hypocrisy and Ignorance:
Instead of admitting their mistake and exploring alternative options, Lady Antebellum chose to pursue “sharing the name”, even though the size of their fanbase and media presence would clearly overshadow any chart listing or internet search relevance Anita had earned for the stage name for herself within months, effectively erasing her career from common knowledge. In addition to search listings, Anita does not come up in Spotify searches for any combination of her stage or real name, so you have to go deep-diving just to find it since the popularity of the name-hijacking group and its associated acts have buried Anita in the platform’s algorithm here, just like everywhere else.
While widely ridiculed as an act of performative wokeness, they took their cringey publicity stunt to new levels of white nonsense, by refusing to back down when the news went viral that Seattle-based White had been going by Lady A for over twenty years. The fact that Anita White was lesser known than themselves seemed to be something Lady Antebellum wanted to use in their favor.–The Mic
The Legal Battle:
Initially the country music group tried a PR campaign and what we’ll generously call “gentle coercion” to influence fans and media to take their side in the issue. By taking the matter to court, Lady Antebellum further demonstrated their lack of understanding and empathy. Despite Anita White expressing her concerns and offering to find a way for both parties to coexist under the same name, the band insisted on obtaining exclusive rights to Lady A, ignoring the harm it would cause to an artist who had dedicated years to her craft.
In an effort to press her side of the discussion, Anita filed a suit in 2020 to stop the country group to from forcibly taking the stage name she had worked so hard to establish, and asked a cool $10 million to set the tone for defending nearly 30 years of slogging it out in the music business to achieve the hard-earned and humble success she has.
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.– Taste of Country
The Nashville powerhouse’s decision to countersue for trademark rights to the name effectively forced Anita White to either give up her established stage name or face financial ruin by dragging the issue out in court and racking up endless legal fees against all the power that is the Nashville machine. Lady Antebellum’s actions displayed a profound level of hypocrisy, as they claimed to strive for inclusivity while disregarding the impact their actions would have on a black artist who had been using the name for years.
As an observer of the music industry, and a frequent writer on the topic, I find it disheartening and discouraging to witness these actions from such an established band. Lady Antebellum’s hypocrisy and ignorance in this situation, and failure to make it right have made it clear to me that they prioritize their own interests over the principles they claim to uphold. I’m sure their fanbase will vehemently defend them, and I know my readership is just a drop in the well of adoring media lip-service they enjoy, but since I don’t have to tow any sponsor or corporate line, I’m free to do as I like with my websites and choose who to support and who to dismiss. As a result, I have decided to no longer cover news about the country music act formerly known as Lady Antebellum, or its individual members.
The incident surrounding Lady Antebellum’s name change and subsequent legal battle over the Lady A moniker serves as a stark reminder of the importance of understanding the historical and cultural implications of our actions. By disregarding the concerns of Anita White, a talented black artist, Lady Antebellum revealed a lack of empathy and failed to live up to the inclusivity they claimed to embody. As consumers of music and media, we must hold artists accountable for their actions and decisions. In this case, I believe it is essential to draw attention to their hypocrisy and ignorance by refusing to cover their news or support their endeavors.
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