The Nashville country trio Lady Antebellum have been around for well over a decade, and they’ve found huge success while using a name that most of us would consider to be questionable at best. Today, Lady Antebellum, recognizing the connotations of that name, have announced that, effective immediately, they’re changing their name to Lady A.
“Antebellum” is the name traditionally used to refer to the pre-Civil War, slavery-era South. Whether intentional or not, the group’s moniker has reflected the widespread Gone With The Wind-style racist nostalgia for an imagined distant past where the white gentry prospered on the labor of enslaved people.
In a statement posted on Twitter, Lady A say that they took their name from the antebellum-style houses where the group first had their picture taken. But in light of the anti-racist protests of the past few weeks — the same environment where labels and awards shows are dropping the use of a racially loaded term like “urban” — the group apologizes for the name and announces the change. Here’s the full text of that statement:
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 continued 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 all of 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 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.
Hillary, Charles & Dave
Your move, Dixie Chicks.