Lady Antebellum, the 14-year-old band that realized in June that their name was racist and changed it to Lady A, also recently discovered that the name was already taken by a Black artist named Anita White. Rather than taking a seat, they decided to sue that woman instead. This isn’t a great look for Lady Antebellum, and I’d truly hate to see a band known for middling pop-country to disappear as a result of this little lawsuit, so we at Jezebel have decided to offer some help.
The name Lady Antebellum has unsavory ties to racism and the Confederacy but sounds vaguely Southern, which is the reason they chose it. (In a 2011 interview with NPR, band member Dave Haywood explained, “It just feels kind of country and nostalgic and we thought that it had a unique sound to it. It had a lady in the group, obviously, and threw Lady in the front of it for no reason.”) It is not descriptive but it does paint a picture of what their music is like—twangy, full of harmonies and yearning. That’s not particularly unique, and so perhaps to distinguish themselves from the rest of the pack, their name must have a little more pep. In the spirit of being helpful, I present the suggestions from the Jezebel staff:
- Lady Y
- Racism Gazebo
- Vitamin A
- The Scarlett Letter
- One Lady and Two Friends
- something popular like Friends or Frasier (these are just shows people like)
- Garden and Gun
- You’re Confusing Us With Sugarland
- We Are Not Little Big Town
- Three Whites and a Guitar
I value my colleagues’ suggestions but feel compelled to reject all of them for the one clear choice that embodies the same twangy spirit of Lady Antebellum. It’s clear to me that they should change their name to Debutante Pavilion, because that’s what I thought their name was for as long as I can remember.
My memory of when this false notion was implanted in my head is as clear as day: I was stoned at a gas station and one of their songs was on the radio. I asked my friend if this was Little Big Town, and he said no. With the confidence of the very young and very stupid, I said “Oh, if it’s not Little Big Town, then this is that one band, Debutante Pavilion.” What happened after my declaration is lost to the sands of time, but the name has stuck for me, and now, hopefully, for them, too.
Debutante Pavilion is a phrase that is largely nonsense; debutantes do not come out in a pavilion or any other outdoor structure, but when strung together, the phrase serves the same purpose: to evoke a hazy, rose-colored glasses view of the South. In an alternate universe, Debutante Pavilion enjoyed the same sort of career Lady Antebellum has but without a name that is racist! Debutante Pavilion performs at the Grammys and the Country Music Awards, and even though you don’t quite recognize their music and have to squint at the TV to figure out who they are, you understand that their music serves an audience. Debutante Pavilion’s best-known song, “Need You Now” is an enjoyable guilty pleasure, plaintive and yearning, with a chorus that begs to be sung in a post-breakup afternoon shower, in an attempt to see if you are still capable of tears. Repeat the phrase Debutante Pavilion enough times, and like a magic trick, when you turn to the Google to search for this song, your fingers will type DEBUTANTE PAVILION NEED YOU NOW, even though we have established that this is not their name, but should be.
Lady A(ntebellum), please heed my cry. Change your name to Debutante Pavilion and save your reputation.