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Country group Lady Antebellum changes band name over word's association to slavery

The group says they chose their original name after the antebellum style home where they shot band photos and regret not considering the associations with slavery.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Grammy-winning country group Lady Antebellum is changing its name to Lady A, with members saying they are regretful and embarrassed for not taking into consideration the word’s associations with slavery.

The band, made up of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, made the announcement Thursday on their social media.

The group's first self-titled album came out in 2008, and included the Grammy-winning No. 1 country hit “I Run To You," then it achieved crossover success on the pop charts with the nine-times platinum “Need You Now." They won three Grammys for that song, including Record of the Year. They have also won numerous Country Music Association and Academy of Country Music awards during their nearly 14 year career.

The statement said that they chose the name after the antebellum style home where they shot their first band photos, and it reminded them of Southern styles of music. Antebellum means before a war and the term has been widely associated with the pre-Civil War period in the United States when slavery was practiced.

Band members said that in recent weeks, their eyes have been opened to “blindspots we didn't even know existed" and "the injustices, inequality and biases black women and men have always faced."

Credit: Al Wagner/Invision/AP
FILE - This Oct. 16, 2019 file photo shows Dave Haywood, from left, Hillary Scott, and Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum at 2019 CMT Artists of the Year in Nashville, Tenn.

The band said it is deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued.

The band's new name is receiving push back from a Seattle blues singer who says she's been going by the name "Lady A" for more than 20 years, according to Rolling Stone. Anita White, a 61-year-old Black woman, has released several albums under the name and was planning to release her latest album "Lady A: Live in New Orleans" on her birthday on July 18th. 

Here is the band's full statement: 

Dear Fans,

As a band, we have strived for our music to be a refuge…inclusive of all. We’ve watched and listened more than ever these last few weeks, and our hearts have been stirred with conviction, our eyes opened wide to the injustices, inequality and biases Black women and men have always faced and continue to face everyday. Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.

After much personal reflection, band discussion, prayer and many honest conversations with some of our closest Black friends and colleagues, we have decided to drop the word “antebellum” from our name and move forward as Lady A, the nickname our fans gave us almost from the start.

When we set out together almost 14 years ago, we named our band after the southern “antebellum” style home where we took our first photos. As musicians, it reminded us of all the music born in the south that influenced us…Southern Rock, Blues, R&B, Gospel and of course Country. But we are regretful and embarrassed to say that we did not take into account the associations that weigh down this word referring to the period of history before The Civil War, which includes slavery. We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued. Causing pain was never our hearts’ intention, but it doesn’t change the fact that indeed, it did just that. So today, we speak up and make a change. We hope you will dig in and join us.

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We understand that many of you may ask the question “Why have you not made this change until now?” The answer is that we can make no excuse for our lateness to this realization. What we can do is acknowledge it, turn from it and take action.

We feel like we have been Awakened, but this is just one step. There are countless more that need to be taken. We want to do better. We are committed to examining our individual and collective impact and making the necessary changes to practice antiracism. We will continue to educate ourselves, have hard conversations and search the parts of our hearts that need pruning—to grow into better humans, better neighbors. Our next outward step will be a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative through LadyAID. Our prayer is that if we lead by example…with humility, love, empathy and action…we can be better allies to those suffering from spoken and unspoken injustices, while influencing our children and generations to come.

Love,

Lady A
Hillary, Charles & Dave

PS - This is a work in progress so thank you for being patient with us while we work to make these changes.