"Now, blindspots we didn't even know existed have been revealed."
June 11, 2020 11:10 AM   Subscribe

Multi-award winning country group Lady Antebellum has announced a name change, and now ask to be called "Lady A".
"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 of all the music born in the south that influenced us...southern rock, blues, R&B, gospel and of course country," the band said. "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."
The responses to their announcement on Twitter are as bad as might be expected, but also highlight the difference between the right-wing's responses to ongoing antiracism and the fury with which they descended on the Dixie Chicks for being ashamed of then-president Bush.
posted by hanov3r (54 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Good on them for doing it now, I guess, but it's not like people weren't screaming the same stuff about them when they got nominated for a Best New Artist Grammy in 2008.

The world is definitely different 12 years later, but the "Wha? We Didn't Know!" act is kinda bullshit.
posted by sideshow at 11:18 AM on June 11 [42 favorites]


Wild that they didn't think of that name as SUPER uncomfortable? I remember being shocked the first time I heard of them, in a "wow, in this day and age people think that's a cool name for a band?" way, and always sort of assumed they were trying to make a very white supremacist statement when they chose it.
posted by potrzebie at 11:19 AM on June 11 [48 favorites]


I always thought that they knew exactly what Antebellum meant and they just didn't give a shit. So, good for them? The new name is just dumb, though. Lady A? They're going to get Dixie Chicked no matter what, so if you're going for a brand change, then change it completely. But still, good for them. Hopefully they'll realize that there is always room on the Americana bandwagon and anyone cool is invited on it.
posted by NoMich at 11:22 AM on June 11 [9 favorites]


This reminds me of KFC's name change. Did people stop talking about Kentucky Fried Chicken? Did people mistake it for a healthier restaurant? They did not.

It's good that they did this, although it was overdue from the beginning; even so, they should at least pick something else, something more Southern and less awful that begins with A. Like Alabama, or Azalea, or Andouille.
posted by Countess Elena at 11:33 AM on June 11 [11 favorites]


A band changing its name seems like a pretty big deal, so I'll give them props for that even if the choice should have seemed questionable at the time.
posted by Horselover Fat at 11:34 AM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Well now their band name just makes me think of Lady G.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:35 AM on June 11 [24 favorites]


Well-meaning though it may be, it's kind of a change without meaning or effect, though, isn't it? I mean, "Lady A" is just going to be shorthand for "Lady Antebellum."
posted by Thorzdad at 11:35 AM on June 11 [19 favorites]


"it reminded us of all the music born in the south that influenced us...southern rock, blues, R&B, gospel and of course country"

...None of which existed in the antebellum south (music historians weigh in here, but even blues and southern gospel are typically dated later in the nineteenth century)

"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."

...Literally the only thing people associate with the antebellum south
posted by Beardman at 11:40 AM on June 11 [50 favorites]


Excited for the Sudbury cover band version, Lady Eh, to go on tour with Shania Twin .
posted by GuyZero at 11:42 AM on June 11 [20 favorites]


It makes one wonder if Lady Before-Slavery-Ended will be next
posted by Beardman at 11:45 AM on June 11 [8 favorites]


When I first heard about a musical artist called Lady Antebellum, I assumed it was a black performer who picked that name as an in-your-face political statement, because I was way too naive to think that white people could get away with calling themselves Mrs. Slavery Time in the 21st century.
posted by theodolite at 11:47 AM on June 11 [77 favorites]


If they wanted to do it right, because we all know the "A" still stands for antebellum, they should've gone with Lady Abolitionist.
posted by tclark at 11:48 AM on June 11 [31 favorites]


The idea that they didn't consider the meaning of the word "antebellum" is either egregiously stupid, or explains a lot about (some) Southern people's blind spots in regards to their own history.
posted by blindkoala at 11:49 AM on June 11 [20 favorites]


Ironic band names are a thing, so if I thought about it all I guess I assumed Lady Antebellum was one of those. But the explanation that Beardman quotes undermines that assumption.
posted by paper chromatographologist at 11:49 AM on June 11 [2 favorites]


theodolite, I’ve been trying to find a way to say the same thing but you have said it better. I’m glad it wasn’t just me.
posted by affectionateborg at 11:54 AM on June 11


Maybe they can work on their ableism next.
posted by Etrigan at 11:56 AM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Unfortunately that is what Lady A stands for
posted by Beardman at 12:02 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Let me know when they decide to go all in with "Lady Reconstruction" or "Sherman Did Nothing Wrong".
posted by The Tensor at 12:08 PM on June 11 [20 favorites]


Lady Starship or Lady Airplane were probably available. Missed opportunity!
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:18 PM on June 11 [18 favorites]


When I first heard of them, I assumed they were deliberately courting young, white, racist country fans. The kind who would go on a plantation vacation because it's "romantic." And ... I don't think I was wrong. Maybe some people listened in spite of the name, but the name is a pretty clear signal about who they think "their people" are.

I'm really unimpressed with the name change. It's better than not changing it, but it's a terrible, unsatisfying change and they fucking knew. People have objected to their name ever since they became popular.

At best they can claim willful ignorance. And even that's stretching the benefit of a doubt.
posted by Kutsuwamushi at 12:33 PM on June 11 [13 favorites]


Literally the only thing people associate with the antebellum south

Mint juleps tho
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:37 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


I’m guessing they’re going pop. Have they already gone pop? I only know who they are because years ago a very inebriated gentleman in a bar kept interrupting my conversation with my friend by playing a song on his phone and getting too close to me. One Google search later and here we are. Also the old name and new name are both terrible.
posted by badbobbycase at 12:38 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


Honest question: have the Dixie Chicks ever talked about their name?
posted by Caxton1476 at 12:44 PM on June 11 [6 favorites]


Lady Afrofuturism (replace all the band members with clones of Janelle Monae)
posted by benzenedream at 12:44 PM on June 11 [40 favorites]


Lady A reminds me of Miss A and makes me wonder if they're trying to be on the comeback stage.
posted by signal at 12:49 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


I have a 'wtf' reaction whenever I hear that name. I don't listen to a lot of country so it doesn't come up often but every single time I hear it, 'wtf'? It's good they're getting rid of the name but really they should just go all-in and think up a totally new name because everyone is going to know that the A just means antebellum.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 1:13 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


Mr. Jim Crow was not available for comment.
posted by gottabefunky at 1:57 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


Yeah, fuck this bullshit. As someone who was raised in the South, and grew up on country music, you know what Antebellum means. Hell, I recall asking my Southern Belle, finishing school graduate grandmother* what the word meant when we toured BelleMeade for the 3rd time and she told me it meant, "Before the Wauarah, we the South still meant something beautiful."

It took until about 6th grade to sort out that she meant "back when we could own humans."

It's bad enough that their music is maudlin and panders to the lowest common denominator, but the name makes it clear what they are doing is intentional. They can rot in anonymity for all I care.

*RacistAF
posted by teleri025 at 3:19 PM on June 11 [13 favorites]


Never confuse ignorance and malice when it's coming from white southerners and has to do with their long history of advocating for why they think they deserve to own other humans.
posted by bleep at 4:49 PM on June 11 [1 favorite]


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

As musicians, we looked around at the rich cultural heritage we grew up with and attributed it to our lawless, psychotic ancestors who massacred and enslaved the very people whose music we now capitalize off of. And now, we see that that's an unpopular point of view. So.
posted by bleep at 5:01 PM on June 11 [9 favorites]


TBH, I had figured that "Lady Antebellum" -- Nashville-cooked-up creature that it was -- was named with all deliberate forethought to signal to the core audience that these nice, white sons and daughters of white-collar professionals and Nashville elites were, in fact, just as "real" American as the audience they were singing to. Nashville is not known for its subtlety.
posted by sobell at 5:12 PM on June 11 [8 favorites]


Should have gone with Lady Antifa.
posted by damehex at 5:55 PM on June 11 [21 favorites]


It tested well at the time. Now it tests less well. THAT is the realisation.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 6:22 PM on June 11 [5 favorites]


Honest question: have the Dixie Chicks ever talked about their name?

Maybe this helps to answer that very good question
posted by NoMich at 7:01 PM on June 11 [2 favorites]


And according to their Wikipedia page, their name is a play on Little Feat's "Dixie Chicken" That makes sense.
posted by NoMich at 7:05 PM on June 11 [4 favorites]


This is a good publicity move in that I haven't thought about Lady Antebellum for years; it's ironic because before that, antebellum was a term only really used in dry historical texts. Good one guys.
posted by greatalleycat at 7:18 PM on June 11


Guys do you think I'm going to have to rename my band, Gentleman Third Reich? If it helps, we named it that way because we really like the architecture of Albert Speer.
posted by atrazine at 1:23 AM on June 12 [17 favorites]


I have decided that the "A" now stands for "Atlanta After Sherman Liberated It."
posted by Brachinus at 5:20 AM on June 12 [4 favorites]


I lived in Alabama for awhile. I had the pleasure of saying things like, "Oh, yeah, those pre-emancipation homes really make you think of what life was like back then" in response to hearing the word "antebellum."

My minor acts of putting the torch to unreconstructed dreams made me feel like Sherman himself.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 5:55 AM on June 12 [12 favorites]


Two of the three members of that band spent time growing up in my hometown of Augusta, so naturally they are big deal there. Based on my facebook feed, though, it seems that the usual suspects are so burnt out on NASCAR banning the KKK flag, HBO dropping Gone With The Wind, and Elmer Fudd being disarmed that they have been surprisingly quiet about this. And it isn’t really a big change, as both the group and the local amphitheater named after it have long been referred to as “Lady A.”

Interestingly, my favorite group with local ties, the Dixie Dregs, dropped the “Dixie” from their name briefly in the 1980s because they didn’t want to be pigeonholed as “Southern rock” when they were really more of a fusion band despite recording for Capricorn Records. Fusion was declining in popularity by then anyway, so other than a few reunion shows they all went on to other things. The violinist is an anesthesiologist practicing pain management and the guitar player now works with a band called Deep Purple, and so on.
posted by TedW at 6:11 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Like everyone is saying, if your name is offensive, switching to the initial doesn't help, any more than if they were Lady SS. This seems like they are trying to have it both ways -- a public name change in response to a new era, but signaling things are still the same for their old fans.
posted by Dip Flash at 6:20 AM on June 12 [2 favorites]


Like everyone is saying, if your name is offensive, switching to the initial doesn't help...

Washington R’s, for another example.
posted by TedW at 8:27 AM on June 12 [1 favorite]


...we named it that way because we really like the architecture of Albert Speer.

Even if that were literally true, you would still be horrible, horrible people.
posted by suetanvil at 11:34 AM on June 12


Rolling Stone today: Lady Antebellum Is Now ‘Lady A.’ But So Is a Blues Singer Who’s Used the Name for 20 Years
This Lady A — a 61-year-old black woman whose real name is Anita White — has been playing the blues under the name for more than 20 years. She began singing as a gospel performer at church and started going by Lady A for karaoke nights in the Eighties. She’s released multiple albums with the name, and on top of her day job working with Seattle Public Utilities, she’s gearing up to release another album, Lady A: Live in New Orleans, on her birthday on July 18th.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:15 PM on June 12 [14 favorites]


Maybe they should change their name to Lady We Can't Google.
posted by TwoStride at 2:09 PM on June 12 [3 favorites]


So many more appropriate names are available: Lady Amy Cooper, The Karenfederacy, etc. It's like they're not even trying.
posted by snofoam at 2:15 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


Proposal: Lady Antibellum changes its name to Lady Antifa and then immediately shuts the fuck up and disbands.
posted by holborne at 3:44 PM on June 12 [5 favorites]


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.

OMG, could there possibly be a more white non-apology? Waiting with bated breath (nah) for the announcement that because a Black singer has been using Lady A for the past 20 years, as per Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug's link, the group has reconsidered and is going with something else. Anything else.

If they are sincere, which I doubt, then the group will drop Lady A. I am not hopeful; would love to be proved wrong.
posted by Bella Donna at 3:51 AM on June 13 [3 favorites]


In my professional opinion and personal head-canon, this band has one song, one video; the glorious celebration of mixology, craft cocktails, and boxing metaphors that is “Bartender”.

That is the only “Lady Aperitif” song I can even identify.
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 9:25 AM on June 13 [1 favorite]


always sort of assumed they were trying to make a very white supremacist statement when they chose it.
posted by potrzebie at


Hiding your bullshit racist opinions like a coward, clothing them in respectability, also has a long history as a white supremacist tactic, also taking a black performers name to erase them, so what is there to make us think the renaming is not white supremacist?
posted by eustatic at 10:02 AM on June 13 [6 favorites]


D'oh. Of course it is.
posted by Bella Donna at 11:36 AM on June 13


I note that it was swiftly changed in Spotify (I had a dance song favorited so it was there on my list), but hilariously when you look them up as artists, the listing of their albums and the Spotify channels is right next to the profile, so you get the full "This Is Lady Antebellum" alongside "Lady A Radio" art. I remember hearing that song and looking up what it was, but then seeing the singers listed after the DJ and going "...what."

I do freelance work for a music-focused magazine and the group comes up from time to time, especially when someone profiled is in the country sphere. I always have a little flinch when I see it.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:46 PM on June 13


oh so like Lady Anal then?

There's already a black blues musician who goes by Lady A.

Lady Parabellum could be cool tho
posted by klangklangston at 1:28 PM on June 13 [1 favorite]


"Lady A" sounds like the name for an all-women Radiohead cover band
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:56 PM on June 13 [2 favorites]


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