When Lady A decided to drop Antebellum from their name over the summer, they knew the impact it would have.
Speaking on The Tamron Hall Show on Friday, the trio — comprising Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood — opened up about their reasoning behind their controversial decision, specifically at the peak of the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The heart of our decision still rings true today as much as it did back in June when we made this announcement," Scott, 34, told Hall. "We want our music, and our live shows and anything that we're a part of, for everyone to feel welcome and invited. And we realized over the summer not touring and watching just this movement happen that is so needed in this country and around the world, we started to see what our part was, what part of our first steps in making a difference could be."
"Our name changing was the first step," she added.
In June, the country group announced that it would be shortening its name to Lady A, given the ties of the term "Antebellum" to the slave-owners and the Confederate South. (The announcement came as the people across the country protested police brutality and racial injustice in the U.S. and across the world.)
On Friday's talk show, Haywood, 38, said that the decision came after having "so many conversations" with Black friends.
"Our goal was to find out the heart behind what 'Antebellum' could bring up for some, and unanimously, it brought up hardship," he said. "So this decision was simple for us, we've been going by 'Lady A' since 2006. And I was just going through my journal the other day and, man, the common denominator with all of my conversations with my friends of color was, 'Let's please keep having this conversation y'all. Let's keep talking about this. Let's make some long term commitments to this,' which we decided to do with our organization, Lady Aid, to support some HBCUs and underprivileged communities."
"It was not the end, it was the beginning for us," he added.
Kelley, 39, further explained how he felt "guilty" for not thinking about the impact a word like that could have, describing it as a "blind spot."
"We came up with the name thinking about the Antebellum home," he said. "It's so naïve now looking back, but I think, as we've grown up, we all have kids now. Why now? Well, we're a lot older, we look at the world a lot different. We're trying to leave the world a little bit better too for our kids and the next generation. We want to be a part of change. We knew this was going to be difficult. We knew we were going to alienate a lot of fans."
"We didn't see some of these other things coming, but it hasn't changed how we’ve tried," he added, referring to the controversy the group faced after a singer by the name Lady A sued the group. "We're trying to resolve this issue with Anita and we're really trying to be a light out there for everybody. And we know it's going to be tough, it's a very divisive issue, but it shouldn't be a divisive issue; it's just about love.”
When Lady A announced the name change in June, they explained that the decision was inspired by "the southern 'antebellum' style home" but had decided to continue with their shortened name instead.
"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," they continued. "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," they added.
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