Photo Credit to Cleveland Country Magazine (top) and Liz Collins (Bottom)
Article by Kayla Bride
Lady Antebellum and the Dixie Chicks are no longer.
Multi GRAMMY Award winning country group Lady Antebellum recently took to social media to inform their fans that they would be changing their name to Lady A.
In their statement, the band expressed their embarrassment at just now fully realizing that the term “antebellum” is used to refer to the pre-Civil War era South in which slavery was prevalent. The band, which includes musicians Hillary Scott, Dave Haywood, and Charles Kelley, said that they “are deeply sorry for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued,” and pledged to actively participate in anti racism. The group also unveiled a new Lady A logo and has since updated their social media handles to reflect the name change.
Just a day after announcing their new moniker, the band found themselves in another predicament. A black blues artist who has been using the name Lady A for 20 years slammed the country group on Instagram for not reaching out to her before changing their name, writing, “How can you say Black Lives Matter and put your knee on the neck of another Black artist? I’m not mad..I am however not giving up my name, my brand I worked hard for.” The Seattle-based singer told Rolling Stone, “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. 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. If it mattered, it would have mattered to them before. It shouldn’t have taken George Floyd to die for them to realize that their name had a slave reference to it. It’s an opportunity for them to pretend they’re not racist or pretend this means something to them. 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?”
In an attempt to patch things up, the band held a video call with the blues artist and an agreement was reached for both parties to use the name Lady A. In another statement posted to social media, the band shared, “Today, we connected privately with the artist Lady A. Transparent, honest, and authentic conversations were had. We are excited to share we are moving forward with positive solutions and common ground. The hurt is turning into hope. More to come.”
Shortly after Lady Antebellum’s announcement, it was revealed that fellow GRAMMY Award winning country group the Dixie Chicks was following suit and altering their name. The iconic trio took a more subtle approach to announcing the news and opted against writing a formal statement. Instead, the group rebranded their social media with the name The Chicks and simply wrote, “We want to meet this moment,” on their revamped website.
Perhaps learning from Lady Antebellum’s faux pas, the Dixie Chicks reached out to New Zealand pop group The Chicks before dropping “Dixie,” a nickname often used for the Southern states that made up the Confederacy, from their name. The trio of Natalie Maines, Emily Strayer, and Martie Maguire stated, “A sincere and heartfelt thank you goes out to ‘The Chicks’ of NZ for their gracious gesture in allowing us to share their name. We are honored to co-exist together in the world with these exceptionally talented sisters. Chicks Rock!”
The group also released a powerful music video for “March March,” a new song off of their upcoming album. The protest anthem and accompanying video address many divisive topics, including the Black Lives Matter Movement, gun violence, climate change, abortion legislation, and underpaid educators. The video also includes footage of recent Black Lives Matter protests and pays tribute to black lives lost to police brutality and racial injustice by flashing the names of victims onscreen. The Chicks sign off the video with a call to action: “Use your VOICE. Use your VOTE.”
Like most topics today, these name changes have drawn a wide array of reactions. A quick look at social media comments reveals everything from accusations of virtue signaling and expressions of anger and disbelief, to praise for acknowledging their privilege and using their platforms to inspire further change. Do you think that these decisions were made to avoid being “canceled,” or do you believe that they are the result of genuine reflection and a desire to become better allies in the fight against racism?