Lady Antebellum changed their name to Lady A: ‘Today, we speak up & make a change’

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Lady Antebellum is a country band composed of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood. They’ve been around for more than a decade, and they’ve had tons of hits on country radio, they’re regular performers, nominees and winners at the various country-music awards shows and they make tons of money off their tours. They are simply a very popular country group. They came up with their name in 2006 or thereabouts, and they started in Nashville, which still has tons of, you know, antebellum architecture and antebellum attitudes. “Antebellum” simply means “before the war,” and whenever people use the word here in America, its context is usually as a way to romanticize the pre-Civil War south. When, say, Blake Lively spoke of “the allure of antebellum,” she was romanticizing white ladies and their slaves on plantations. Anyway, Lady Antebellum is changing their name. They are no longer Lady Antebellum. They are simply Lady A. And it’s for the reasons you think. Here’s the statement they released on Thursday, which you can read here and at their new site, Lady A Music (the old ladyantebellum.com redirects to the new site).

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 every day. 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.⁣⁣⁣

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 & generations to come.

[From Lady A’s social media]

There are already salty rednecks crying tears about How Dare They Deny The South or whatever. Personally, I like and appreciate what they’re doing here. They’re not waiting to get the “why are you still calling yourselves that?” questions. They’re not waiting until they’re cancelled, if they even would have been cancelled (which I doubt). I think they honestly sat down as a group and decided that the name was wrong and they wanted to do better and decided to be proactive. I’m sure there will be some people arguing that they could have figured this out before a huge racial justice movement rose up globally. And that’s true. But it’s also true that people are still flying confederate flags and getting married on plantations and treating black people as props. Big picture, they’re doing the right thing and I’m happy they came to that decision.

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50 Responses to “Lady Antebellum changed their name to Lady A: ‘Today, we speak up & make a change’”

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  1. Andrew’s Nemesis says:

    Good group, good decision. No saltiness here.

    • Yup, Me says:

      I must have gotten your dose and about 15 of my own.

      I’ve been annoyed by their ignorant ass band name since the first time I heard it and I’ve deliberately ignored their music for years BECAUSE of that name. Not sorry/don’t care.

      Them changing their name now strikes me as pandering and I will continue to think that they and their music, can shove it.

      Separately, what a privilege to build a whole, successful, decade-long career around an offensive name and history and then decide to change it after people start getting reamed for their (overt and covert) racist behaviors like you’re doing it out of the goodness of your heart.

      I call bull.

      • SofiasSideEye says:

        I’m with you, yup. Im sure people have been trying to get them to change their name for years. They’re just tying to get ahead of being called out. This is an empty, cynical gesture.

  2. Seraphina says:

    I get what what they are doing but why now? Why change the name amid what is going on? For me, it’s an insult to my intelligence. They knew what it meant and what it stood for. I don’t give them a pass. They obviously liked the name and chose it for a reason. And they can’t blame it on ignorance.

    • Chaine says:

      Exactly! I used to listen to country back when this band first became a thing, and the name was so brazen then I just shook my head, I mean to me it always referenced a wealthy plantation mistress lounging on her porch in her hoop skirts getting fanned by a human being she owned. Ii’s good they are changing that name, but it’s never meant anything other than what it meant so either they were really really REALLY uninformed and unread until this week or they are scrambling to veil their heretofore unapologetic racism.

    • Astrid says:

      Same, why now…

    • Redgrl says:

      Yeah I always wondered about this too. Don’t follow country music much, but when I first heard the name years ago I remember thinking “not good” and assuming they were southern racists pandering to others of the same view.

    • sa says:

      I agree. I can’t claim to know their music (or if I do, I don’t know it’s them), but I have heard of them and always found their name questionable. And I’m not really impressed with “Lady A” when we all know what the “A” stands for.

    • Sunday says:

      Precisely. Their name has always been a nice little dog whistle for their fans, whether they agreed with the connotation or were just ok profiting off it. The pettiest of golf claps for them changing it now.

      Does the capitalized ‘A’ for awakening in their post mean that’s what the A is supposed to signify now? Because if so I think I just sprained an optic nerve rolling my eyes.

      • Jodi says:

        not to be salty by saying this, but who cares? they likely never thought about it and applied all their white lenses over why it might be offensive and now that we’re all being forced (thankfully) to think deeper, they’ve made the decision to do better.

    • Marjorie says:

      Should have been like this in 1995 or whenever they started – Someone: hey why don’t we call our band Lady Antebellum? Everyone else: No!

    • Kate says:

      They address this in their post but it wasn’t copied here. They basically say “we know some of you are wondering why it took us so long and we have no excuse”.

    • Bettyrose says:

      This all the way. I cringed the very first time I heard their name. I figured it was a deliberate choice to romanticize exactly what antebellum means. Good for them I guess but nothing about recent events is new so sudden changes of heart feel very self serving.

    • Mel says:

      Same question. I don’t know why at the very least this wasn’t addressed when Blake Lively got the Antebellum backlash. Once again, at the very least.

  3. Becks1 says:

    IT’s a good decision but either they are completely stupid to not have realized the full connotations of that word before or they just didn’t care. And considering there are reporters etc on twitter posting about the times they were asked about the name and its connotations, I’m going to say they just didn’t care.

    Still, better late than never I guess.

    • lucy2 says:

      Interesting. While I’m glad they did change it now, good for those reporters for being like “nope, we mentioned it before all this”.

  4. Who ARE these people? says:

    Well…took them long enough.

  5. Tx_mom says:

    As a multi-racial family living in the South, we appreciate this. It did seem a little funny when we first heard this, but it was refreshing, too. When we talked about it, we realized that their original name was yet another micro-aggression; it’s kind of nice to experience a micro-reparation!

  6. ChillyWilly says:

    Whatever. Why would you ever think that name was ok in the first place?

    • Who ARE these people? says:

      They had their finger on the pulse then and they have their finger on the pulse now.

    • Royalwatcher says:

      This!! Why is it suddenly too offensive, we must change the name?! Why would I assume they suddenly care about racism when the name has always been offensive? Why didn’t they change it 5 years ago? Especially if, as they say in the statement, their fans have called them Lady A since the start?! Then why hang on to the racist term all this time?

  7. Valiantly Varnished says:

    The amount of backlash they got from racist a-holes on Twitter was disgusting. They were accused of doing it to be for clout and attention. They were called washed up. And my thought behind that is if they are so washes up why do you even care that they changed their name?? But the rednecks were triggered. Further proving that country music has an issue with the people it attracts. 🤷🏽‍♀️

    • Seraphina says:

      VV, living in the south, I’m constantly asked why I don’t like country music. Having grown up here after moving from the north and being called names and told to “get on the boat that brought you here” and having my name changed by the school I attended, I have always thought the same. That country music embodies all of that negativity that I endured. I know I should not generalize, but I also see the fans it attracts. Just like NASCAR.

    • Betsy says:

      This is my issue with country music, too. I do like quite a bit of country, but not what they play on the radio, and I admit that when Lady A became famous, I deliberately didn’t listen to their music because I assumed they were trying to whistle. There’s nothing inherently racist hateful about country music, but there are a lot of musicians and fans who act like there is.

      All the country I listen to is nostalgic stuff from the 90s and stuff like Tami Neilson. “Queenie, Queenie” is a great one, but so is “Stay Outta My Business.” Anyone who needs to dogwhistle for their fans can go “whistle” up a rope.

  8. Mrs. Smith says:

    Meh—glad they changed the name officially, but in country music in general, around Nashville and in concerts, the group “shortened” the band name to Lady A years ago. Like when announcers called them on to major concert stages, they announce them as Lady A. So good for them, but this was not a huge leap or risk. 99% of their fans call them Lady A anyway.

  9. Rose says:

    I think the name still stinks. Lady A is just short for the original, so why the applause?

  10. MellyMel says:

    I’ve always liked them. I don’t listen to a lot of country music, but they are one of the few country artists I do listen too. I think them changing their name is a nice decision, but they shouldn’t have named themselves that in the first place. I also don’t believe that absolutely no one around them has mentioned it to them since 2006. I mean good one them, but the timing is interesting.

  11. Mar says:

    But what does that “A” stand for…? No applause from me. They knew what they were doing then, this is only damage control.

    • Tiffany says:

      They were asked about the name before and they said that it was in part to the music they were all inspired by and wanted to put out to the world. I shrugged my shoulders then because I wasn’t buying it nor buying their music.

      This in lies the rub, they were not expanding outside of the same fan base they have always had. They want longevity and to do that you have to expand. It will not surprise me if more groups or artist come out of the woodwork about this.

  12. Mrs. Smith says:

    ETA (@Valiantly) That’s true about the triggered rednecks. As far as the Country audience is concerned, the name change IS a big deal. Obvi, the “antebellum” crowd does not like change.

  13. MissMarierose says:

    They didn’t do this before people started questioning their name.
    I remember when they had the big crossover hit “Need You Know,” they were asked about it quite a few times. They just shrugged it off.

  14. Scout says:

    For folks replying “why now?” (And there are a lot of you.) Why not now? Things don’t happen in a vacuum. We move along until suddenly there is an impetus for change, and you can either embrace and help propel it forward, or you can sully any attempts as “too late” or “not enough.” Even if some of your comments are in good faith, what do you hope to achieve? Yes, they should have realized what their name was lifting up BEFORE, but their explanation as to the origin felt honest. The larger point: it doesn’t matter how they got here, they’ve arrived. Their long post didn’t feel forced or stiff, they didn’t make themselves out to be victims of a movement, it was organic. That’s part of this great awakening. White people didn’t think about certain things. Now they do. I’m biracial, brought up in a white world, and a lot of these issues are new to me as well. How cynical some of you are. That attitude makes it more difficult and uncertain for the next group, corporation, etc., who wants to step out from the shadows, and that’s the last thing we want. Embrace people’s attempts to change. This is the only way.

  15. Ksweet says:

    Maya Angelou said something like, when you know better, do better. I think this is what they’re doing, and I’m glad for it.

  16. LunaSF says:

    My husband and I took some edibles last night and he brought this story up to me and could not get over how over the top the apology was and why the fuck they were they ok with it for the past 15 years but now are changing it. He is really into music but had never heard of them before. I’ve been aware of them. Good for them I guess?

  17. CROOKSANDNANNIES says:

    I’m very glad they changed their name, but I think “Lady A” sounds dumb. I know it’s been used as shorthand before, but it makes me think of the first in a series of ladies. But I get that creating a whole new name might be tedious/logistically difficult.

  18. AppleTartin says:

    But doesn’t the A stand for Antebellum? it’s a baby step I guess. But it’s not like they are willing to spend millions in re-branding themselves. That would have been a real step for change.

  19. Marcie says:

    I’m sorry, I was never into this group based on the name alone. Changing it to Lady A means nothing, since the “A” still stands for the same thing. But also, isn’t the guy on the left giving the racist OK sign in the top photo? I also believe that the Hilary has a “14″ tattoo which also has some racist connotation (she says it’s the age she decided to be a singer).

  20. Dragon Wise says:

    Anything that has racist rednecks crying hot, salty tears is fine by me! Yes, they should have never had the name in the first place, but their awful fans having fits is DELICIOUS!

  21. yellowy says:

    I always assumed their name was a dog whistle to potential fans of a certain leaning. I’m glad they made this change.

    • AppleTartin says:

      I don’t think it was specifically a dog whistle. They, just like a lot of people who romanticize the old south. Think about the mint juleps and hoop skirts. Not the slavery and abuse that went on at the same time. Black people weren’t even a factor in their minds when naming themselves.

  22. Kiwigirl says:

    The group apparently didn’t pay a lawyer to do an intellectual property/copyright search nor did they seemingly do even a simple Google search. Lady A is the long-standing stage name of Anita White, a 61-year-old African American blues singer from Seattle. White celebrities and influencers, particularly the ones using this moment to keep themselves in the spotlight and promote their “wokeness,” really do imo need to sit down and shut up for awhile.

    • AppleTartin says:

      Watch the label and the band will bury her in legal fees and she will give up any legal standing to it and they will take the name legally for themselves. IF this is the case and it happens. They need to be called out on it LOUDLY.

  23. SJR says:

    Most of country music I can take it or leave it.
    Dwight Yoakam is the only country artist I have ever spent money to buy his music.

    This group? meh. Seems to be timed for effect.

  24. Emily says:

    This is SO BAD. They took this name without asking the black blues singer who’s used the name for 30 years!

    https://www.king5.com/mobile/article/news/nation-world/lady-a-antebellum-name-seattle-blues-singer/507-3386f1c7-a71b-4387-a355-4adf6b973ee1

    • AppleTartin says:

      She claimed they reached out to her on Instagram. No mention if she has it trademarked. The band’s label and lawyers don’t care about google searches. Just what they can do legally. Be interesting to see what they do morally and legally. But I expect for her to be steamrolled over by the band’s lawyers. This story shouldn’t die.