The Grammy award-winning country group announced that it would be dropping the word “Antebellum” from their name. They would be changing their name to Lady A.
“As a band, we have strived for our music to be a refuge…inclusive of all,” the group wrote in their social media. “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, blind spots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.”
Decision Made After Much Personal Reflection
The change comes after the group realized the word’s association with slavery. If you check out Merriam-Webster, it says that the word “antebellum” comes from the Latin phrase ante bellum. The word literally means “before the war.” Its earliest known appearance in English dates back to the 1840s. However, it is widely associated with the pre-Civil War period in the United States when slavery was practiced.
“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.”
The group, composed of members Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood, explained that they picked the moniker when they named their band 14 years ago because of the southern “antebellum” style home their first photos were shot. The reference also reminded them of all the music born in the south that has influenced them, “southern rock, blues, R&B, gospel and of course country.”
Their biggest hit was “Need You Now” in 2009, which reached No 2 in the Billboard Hot 100 and went nine times platinum in the US. It is also their only UK hit, reaching No 15. They have won five Grammy awards from 10 nominations.
However, the group admits they just recently realized the heavy connotations related to the word.
“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,” the statement said.
“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.”
The First of the Many Steps
The group vowed that their name change is just the first of the many steps they will take in their commitment to “practice antiracism.” The group is also donating funds to the Equal Justice Initiative through their non-profit LadyAID.
“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,” they wrote. “Our next outward step will be a donation to the equal justice initiative through Ladyaid.”
But It Isn’t Sitting Well
Lady Antebellum’s name change to Lady A is not sitting well with another artist who’s saying she’s been using that moniker for two decades already.
The Seattle-based blues singer Lady A, who is also Black, turn to Instagram to blast the country group. She said: “How can you say Black Lives Matter and put your knee on the neck of another Black artist? I’m not mad..I am, however, not giving up my name, my brand I worked hard for. #GodWillFightMyBattle #TheRealLadyA #LadyABluesSoulFunkGospelArtist #TheTruthIsLoud”
She told Rolling Stone that no one from the group has reached out to her before revealing the name change.
“This is my life,” she said to the magazine. “Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done. This is too much right now.”
Though it’s not yet clear if the blues singer has tried to trademark the name “Lady A.” If you check out the United States Patent and Trademark Office records, it will show you that the term was registered for Lady A Entertainment, a limited liability company in Tennessee, since 2011. Lady A Entertainment is also listed as the owner of a series of Lady Antebellum trademarks relating to music and multimedia materials.
The country group has not yet responded, but they ended their name-change announcement with:
“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.”