But now, with the national reckoning over the Black Lives Matter movement, the group reconsidered the implications behind the phrase. “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 every day. Now, blindspots we didn’t even know existed have been revealed,” they wrote. “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.”
“We understand that many of you may ask the question ‘Why have you not made this change until now?’ " the trio continued. “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.”
The group has been called out many times in the past for a name that is associated with the Antebellum South, the period before the Civil War when black people were enslaved. They said in their statement that when they came up with the name, “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. … We are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued.”
In the past two weeks, the country genre — known for its fixation on the past, and frequently the Southern past — has started publicly addressing its own painful truths about the racial inequality of the format, which has its roots in black history but is now overwhelmingly white. On an industry Zoom call last week with more than 800 participants, black music industry executives shared their trepidation about going to venues in the South where Confederate flags are often on display. A black country music fan recently shared on Instagram that she often doesn’t feel safe going to country concerts, and the post subsequently went viral among Nashville artists, who flooded her comment section to show support.
This decision comes a day after NASCAR announced it would ban Confederate flags at events, a change that prompted many on social media to ask if country music concerts would be next.
Lady A formed in 2006, and went on to write and record the 2009 smash “Need You Now,” which went nine times platinum and won song and record of the year at the Grammy Awards. After taking a two-year break to work on solo projects, they reunited in 2017 and last November released their seventh studio album. The trio has been posting, separately and together, in the past week, about ending racial inequality.
“Causing pain has never been our hearts’ intention, but that 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,” the band said, adding that they are making a donation to the Equal Justice Initiative. “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.”