Lady Antebellum, Artist of the Week
Runs Feb. 9-13th.
Lady Antebellum is an American country music group formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 2006. The group is composed of Hillary Scott (lead and background vocals), Charles Kelley (lead and background vocals, guitar), and Dave Haywood (background vocals, guitar, piano, mandolin). Scott is the daughter of country music singer Linda Davis, and Kelley is the brother of pop singer Josh Kelley.
Hillary Scott attended Donelson Christian Academy in Donelson, Tennessee. Kelley moved to Nashville in mid-2005 from Winston-Salem, North Carolina, where he had been working construction with his brother John. Trying to become a successful solo country artist, Kelley convinced his old middle-school classmate, Haywood, to move to Nashville from Georgia in 2006 so they could write music together. Shortly thereafter, Scott recognized Kelley from MySpace, and they started to talk at a Nashville music club. Kelley invited Scott to join him and Haywood in the new group, which assumed the name Lady Antebellum.
The name Antebellum comes from when the group were photographing “antebellum” homes. The antebellum architectural style describes the large plantation homes in the American South. The Latin word bellum means “war”; “antebellum” therefore means “before the war”. In America specifically, the Antebellum era commonly refers to the period before the Civil War. While photographing the houses one of the group said that there’s a great band name in there, and they adopted the Lady Antebellum name shortly after. The trio then began performing at local venues in Nashville before being signed in July 2007 to a recording contract with Capitol Records Nashville.
Planes, trains and automobiles. Lady Antebellum has spent plenty of time in all three. Driven by the need to continually evolve, the country trio always seems to be in transit, pushing toward a newer, bolder sound one minute and hitting the road for a worldwide tour the next. Sometimes, those two things happen at once.
With 747, Lady Antebellum’s fifth album, the band captures the speed and spirit of its critically- acclaimed live show in 11 new songs. Bandmates Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood may have formed the group in Nashville, with all three singers harmonizing for the first time around Haywood’s piano, but they earned their stripes on the road. That’s where Lady Antebellum truly came alive, mixing the rootsy stomp of forward-thinking Country music with the swooning, sweeping sound of three voices that were born to mesh.
As the shows got bigger, so did the band’s ambition. Written during the 2014 Take Me Downtown Tour, 747 — whose title rustles up the image of a fast-moving plane bound for bigger, better places — doubles as a metaphor for the group itself. After spending years at the top of the Country charts, Lady Antebellum is ready to pull up the wheels and climb even higher.
Kelley, Scott and Haywood invited some of their favorite songwriters to join them on the road, too, resulting in a series of late-night writing sessions on the band’s tour bus, with everyone traveling together from one sold-out show to the next.
During gaps in the band’s busy touring schedule, Lady Antebellum returned to Nashville and recorded the new songs with Grammy-winning producer Nathan Chapman. It was one of the group’s first times working with anyone besides Paul Worley, who’d played a monumental role in Lady Antebellum’s career by co-producing multi-platinum hits like “Need You Now,” “Just a Kiss” and “I Run to You.” The band became a chart-topping, Grammy-winning juggernaut under Worley’s wing… but even the biggest groups need to reach outside their comfort zone.
As a result, Lady Antebellum finished an entire record in a short, inspired period of time. Chapman pushed the three singers to deliver their best performances up front, often recording a song’s vocal tracks in just four or five takes. He also stretched the boundaries of Lady A’s sound by introducing some subtle digital touches, like loops and computer programming.
It’s appropriate that 747 — an album about love, nostalgia, and the things that move us emotionally and physically — also contains several fast-paced anthems about transit.
“We put so much energy into every single vocal performance and every aspect of recording,” Scott says of the album, which arrives less a year after the deluxe release of Golden, “and that’s what we want people to hear. That electricity. The electricity of new relationships, of new music, of new ways of recording.”
“747 is a snapshot of where we are as a band,” adds Kelley. “It’s us wanting to solidify our place — to stay at the top of our game, for lack of a better way of saying it. You know, when you start playing these arenas and these amphitheaters, and the fans are gravitating toward this music, it’s a drug. You want it. You want to stay there. As a band, we’re ready.”
Since January 2012, Lady Antebellum has been partnered with the “myLifespeaks” charity, to raise awareness of and provide facilities for disabled orphans in Haiti. At the start of the year 2013, Lady Antebellum continued to give back with the formation of LadyAID, which was created in hopes of bringing awareness to children’s charities in the United States and around the world.