Books & Music

Lady Antebellum Changed Their Name To Lady A—But A Black Blues Singer Has Performed With That Name For Decades

It looks like the trio may need to change its name — again.

Country music superstar trio Lady Antebellum is no more. But fans of the group — which is best known for hits like “Need You Now” and “Bartender” — don’t have to worry that they broke up. Instead, group members Dave Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott reached out to fans to inform them of a permanent name change to simply Lady A.

“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 band said in a letter to fans the group posted across its social media channels, including Twitter, on June 11.

The discussions arose following weeks of protests across the world focusing on racial equality, which were sparked when George Floyd was killed in police custody in Minneapolis.

“We’ve watched and listened more than ever these last few weeks, and our hearts have been stirred with conviction our eyes have been opened wide to the injustices, inequality and biases black women and men have always faced and continue to face every day,” the band shared on Twitter. “Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed.”

The term “antebellum” means before a war, and is typically tied to life before the American Civil War. Though it’s also used to describe a decorating and architectural style, many link the word “antebellum” to an era in the U.S. when slavery was widely accepted and allowed.

Al Wagner/Invision/AP

The band explained in their letter to fans that they chose to use “antebellum” based on “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.”

However, the band continued, “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.”

Meanwhile, Seattle blues singer Anita White, who has performed under the name Lady A for decades, told Rolling Stone she was surprised to learn about the country trio’s name change.

“This is my life. Lady A is my brand, I’ve used it for over 20 years, and I’m proud of what I’ve done,” the singer, who is Black, said in an interview with the publication. “This is too much right now. They’re using the name because of a Black Lives Matter incident that, for them, is just a moment in time…”

“It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them,” she continued. “If it did, they would’ve done some research. And I’m not happy about that. You found me on Spotify easily — why couldn’t they?”

Lady A’s Facebook page calls her “The Hardest Workin Woman in Blues, Soul, Funk & Gospel”:

Attorneys Rolling Stone consulted said band names fall under copyright infringement law, and one of them noted that the blues singer seemed to have a good case.

Will the country trio have to change their name again?