Lady A Recalls Moment That Led to Name Change: 'What It Made People Feel, We Had Never Asked'

Lady A announced they would be shortening their name in June 2020, amid protests in the U.S. fighting against police brutality and racial injustice

It's been a year and a half since Lady A shortened their name as a means of being more "inclusive to all," but the band is still grateful for having learned the lessons that got them there.

Bandmates Charles Kelley, 40, Hillary Scott, 35, and Dave Haywood, 39, stopped by PEOPLE (the TV Show!) to reflect on the a-ha moment that inspired the name change, which came amid protests in the U.S. fighting against police brutality and racial injustice.

"The murder of George Floyd brought so much of it to our attention and just talking to our friends, we knew through history class what the word antebellum meant, but understanding what it implied, what it made people feel — we had never asked," Scott told senior correspondent Jeremy Parsons. "And so when we did, we realized unanimously that this word is offensive."

Kelley added: "After a while, when you start hearing some of these comments, you're like, 'Whoa, I don't want people to think that about us.'"

The group announced it would be nixing "Antebellum" from its name in June 2020, given the term's ties to owners of enslaved people and the Confederate South.

Lady A
Dave Haywood, Hillary Scott and Charles Kelley of Lady A. Hodges Usry

In a lengthy statement, the band acknowledged "blindspots we didn't even know existed," and said they'd been engaged in conversation with Black friends and colleagues, who opened their eyes to the issues surrounding the name.

"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," they said.

The group went on to say that when they came up with the name over a decade ago, they were only thinking of "the southern 'antebellum' style home" — but that they were sorry "for the hurt this has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued."

"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 statement said.

Lady A addressed the name change once more in December on The Tamron Hall Show, with Kelley saying that they understood the decision would "alienate a lot of fans."

The "Friends Don't Let Friends" singers released the second half of their eighth full-length album, What a Song Can Do, last month, with Kelley telling PEOPLE the record is "the most vulnerable and honest" one they've ever made.

Updated by Rachel DeSantis
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