Country music group Lady A, who dropped the word Antebellum from their name over links to the slave era, are taking legal action against a black woman who has performed as Lady A for decades.
The chart-topping band said they had tried to resolve the dispute with Anita White amicably, but alleged her team had “demanded a $10m (£7.9m) payment”.
They said their action was to obtain a ruling over copyright.
White would not be prevented from using the name, they added.
The Nashville trio formerly known as Lady Antebellum have won five Grammys and had seven US top 10 albums, including three number ones.
They changed their name in June amid a reappraisal of racially insensitive practices following the death of George Floyd.
The word antebellum is used to refer to the period and architecture in the US South before the Civil War. The band said the architectural style had been their inspiration, but that they were “deeply sorry” for any hurt they had caused.
Their transformation into Lady A hit a road-bump when Anita White laid claim to the name and criticised the band for making the switch without contacting her.
Band members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and David Haywood later spoke to the 61-year-old, declaring they had shared “transparent, honest, and authentic conversations”.
“We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come,” they wrote on Instagram, sharing a screenshot of their video call with White.
However, things then appeared to turn sour. Speaking to Newsday, White said she objected to a draft agreement written by Lady A’s legal team.
“I’m not happy about [it] yet again after talking in good faith,” she said. “Their camp is trying to erase me.”
After filing legal action in Tennessee on Tuesday, Lady A said they were “sad to share” that their hopes of working “together with Anita White in unity and common purpose” had ended.
Court documents said the group had used the name Lady A informally for several years, and that White had not opposed any previous applications for the Lady A trademark, nor had she sought the trademark for herself.
However, White’s legal team reportedly drafted a settlement agreement that “included an exorbitant monetary demand”, the papers continued.
In their statement Lady A added: “She and her team have demanded a $10m 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.
“We hope Anita and the advisers she is now listening to will change their minds about their approach. We can do so much more together than in this dispute.”
After news of the legal action broke, White quoted the Bible on her Facebook page, writing: “No Weapon formed against me will prosper.”
She added the hashtags #IWillNotBeErased and #TheRealLadyA.