“In spirit with the Black Lives Matter movement artists including yourselves have taken to meeting this moment by changing band names. What was your reaction to Lady A changing their name and taking the Antebellum out?” Cohen asked.
“Man, I think it was good. It was news to us that they had gotten that trademark, what, six years ago or something. I wasn’t up to speed on what they were doing. I think it was the right move,” Maines said before touching on the lawsuit that Lady A filed against blues singer Anita White, who has been using the same moniker for more than two decades.
“I think it’s been very awkward and uncomfortable to have this whole lawsuit and it’s kind of going against the point of changing their name,” she added.
“What do you say to the people who disagree with you all changing your name and taking out the Dixie from The Chicks?” Cohen asked.
“We don’t really care,” Maguire said as the rest of the group laughed.
The Tonight the Heartache’s On Me hit-makers made the announcement on June 25 via an official press release. It read: “We want to meet this moment.”
Though it was not acknowledged by the Chicks specifically, multiple news outlets (including Variety), reported that the decision followed discussions around the appropriateness and historical associations with the word “Dixie.”
Dixie was used as a name for the Southern/Confederate states in the U.S. during the American Civil War — it came just before the abolishment of slavery in the U.S. in the late 19th century.
On June 11, the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum announced that it had officially changed its name to Lady A, after being “awakened” to the historical connection to the word “antebellum” — which refers to a period in history pre-dating the Civil War.
The next day, however, Anita White, a Black musician who has gone by the name Lady A for two decades took to Instagram airing her grievances with the Need You Now rockers, suggesting they did not approach her about changing their name.
“If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before,” the 61-year-old singer told Rolling Stone on June 12.
“It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it,” she added.
After much back-and-forth between the two, the Grammy Award-winning band’s legal filing was submitted to the Nashville U.S. District Court on July 8 after White’s legal team gave them “a draft settlement agreement that included an exorbitant monetary demand” — even though the two parties had already had “heartfelt discussions” about a “peaceful” and “continued coexistence” as Lady A — as seen in a court filing provided to Global News by a representative of the band.
While the group is not suing White for monetary compensation, or even asking her to change her stage name, they are seeking a ruling that their use of the trademark “Lady A” — which they claim to “have held for many years” — does not infringe on any trademark rights White may have for the same name.
“(White) 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,” the band wrote in an accompanying statement.
The band — which consists of members Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley — reportedly applied for trademarks to the name “Lady A” back in 2010, specifically for entertainment services and for use on clothing back. “No oppositions were filed by any person or entity,” according to the Associated Press.
—With files from Global News’ Adam Wallis