Hit-making country trio Lady A certainly knows what it means to have highs and lows when it comes to a career in entertainment. On the one hand, their music boasts hundreds of millions of streams and has garnered the trio its fair share of awards, including a Grammy in 2010 for Best Country Performance by Duo or Group with Vocals for “I Run to You.”
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On the other hand, the group has experienced headline-making news regarding its band name, and not usually for the most positive reasons. But in the end, the group has found a solution for its moniker and is forging ahead, renewed. Below we look into the details of the group’s career and the story behind its band name, Lady A.
Formed in 2006 in Nashville, Tennessee, the members of Lady Antebellum went through the problem so many other groups before them (and since them) have. How to pick a good band name? As we chronicled here, band names are hard.
So, when the group, which is comprised of Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood and Charles Kelley, were at a photoshoot in a mansion in the Antebellum South, they liked the sound of that word. Antebellum. Then the group began to wonder if there was a ghost in there, perhaps a woman. So, the members said, they added the Lady in front of Antebellum and were satisfied with the name, its vibe, sound and “country” nostalgia.
The band members stated later, however, that they never realized that the word Antebellum refers to a period in America specifically pre-civil war in which the enslavement and dehumanization of Blacks was common practice. This reality, however, was made painfully clear to the trio around 2020 in the wake of the murder of George Floyd.
After Floyd’s death, people and businesses everywhere began to reevaluate their stance on social justice. However, as far back as 2011, critics were trying to point out that ignorance of the definition of Antebellum should not have excused the band for glorifying a dark period in American history. Soon, Lady Antebellum was in a tough spot.
Lady A (Both of Them)
After reevaluating their name, the trio decided to shorten their moniker to just Lady A.
At the time, American Songwriter’s Paul Zollo wrote of this move, “Given that the world knows what that A stands for, to many this change does little more than add extra insult to this ongoing injury.”
What made it worse for the band was that a Seattle-based blues singer, Anita White, had been using the name Lady A for some two decades. (For more with her, read our interview with the original Lady A HERE.) She claimed that the more popular band changing its name would wipe out her identity on the internet. Anyone searching for Lady A would then find the country group, not her, she said.
Compounding this was the fact the blues singer is Black. If the multi-platinum-selling, Grammy Award-winning country band was changing its name, removing Antebellum, to appear more sensitive to racial struggles in the U.S., taking on a Black artist’s name did not look good in the eyes of many fans and music followers.
At first, the two parties attempted to communicate. But things got contentious quickly and they even traded lawsuits. But in 2022, a few years after the controversy began, the two parties reportedly settled their suits amicably.
Today, both White and the country group go by the name Lady A.
Photo: Dove Shore / Courtesy of GreenRoom PR