The Seattle Blues Diva is angered by their use of her name
She’s a legendary soul & blues diva who has been beloved in the Pacific Northwest for decades, both for the unchained power of her soul and blues singing, and for her ongoing contributions to the community.
She’s Anita White, who has been called the “hardest workin’ woman” in Blues, Soul & Funk and has used the name Lady A for decades. Naturally, she was rather dismayed when learning that the country trio Lady Antebellum was changing their name to Lady A.
The trio – Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood – announced yesterday that they were making this name change after growing aware of the meaning of ‘antebellum,’ which they said they originally chose out of love for the beautiful antebellum mansions in the South, with no understanding of its full meaning. That the word, which literally means ‘before the war,’ has been used to glorify the era of Southern slavery that pre-dated the Civil War was something they said they never knew.
But now, as they announced, it’s a change that needed to be made following “much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest black friends and colleagues.”
Yet by making this change, they are retaining the initial A and taking her name. Given that the world knows what that A stands for, to many this change does little more than add extra insult to this ongoing injury.
“It’s an opportunity,” said Lady A, “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.”
Lady A is not some unknown, marginal artist about whom nobody need worry. She’s an acclaimed, award-winning artist and champion for other artists. She also a DJ on Lady A’s Gumbo & Gospel every Sunday morning and on Black N Blues (the B side) show on NWCZ online radio out of Tacoma, Washington. She’s also a longtime champion for other artists, forever bringing Blues and Gospel musicians to the Seattle area under Lady A Productions.
She’s opened shows for the late Little Milton, Shemekia Copeland, and Dr. John, and is revered for her kind spirit. Her motto, she said, is “Be Blessed and Be A Blessing to those around you”
“ I’m proud of what I’ve done,” she said. 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.
“How do you just take someone’s name after making a mistake with the one you have? I’m the one True Lady A, and have been for over 20 years. You didn’t do your homework the first time and now you want to take my professional name and brand. Think again Colonizer.”
The group said they never heard of her, but were going to look into the matter. White is planning to sue so as to protect her trademark.
“I’m not about to stop using my name,” she said. “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.”