Country Trio Lady A on Delving Into Songwriting, Turning Struggles Into Music

"Our intention from day one was to send a message of love and change," Lady A's Charles Kelley says

Over the past year, country trio Lady A has used their time off the road due to the COVID-19 pandemic to delve deeply into songwriting for their new project What A Song Can Do (Chapter One), which released June 25. Lady A’s Dave Haywood told Billboard, “We wrote 50-60 songs almost like we did for our debut record in 2006.”

“Talk of This Town,” the opening song on their new album draws upon the feeling of being the one everyone is talking about. I don’t wanna be the talk of this town/The buzz at the bar, word going ’round/Like front-page news and it’s too loud to ignore, the chorus goes, as the song’s protagonist tries to weather a romantic breakup in peace, hoping some other small-town news will soon become the center of gossip.

Haywood told Billboard the song also, in a way, touches on “sort of the things [the band] went through last year.”

In mid-2020, the group’s Haywood, Charles Kelley and Hillary Scott changed their band name from Lady Antebellum to Lady A to disassociate themselves from the term “antebellum” and its link to the pre-Civil War era. The bandname shift led to a lawsuit with blues/soul performer Anita White, who has long performed under the professional name Lady A.

“It’s all about trademark rights, so we’re just letting our lawyers figure it all out,” trio Lady A’s Charles Kelley told Billboard, “but it’s been a very interesting process for sure, eye-opening and tough, but I think we’re stronger for it. You learn and grow so much in tough times. Just COVID in general this whole year has taught us that, but we’re as close as we’ve ever been as a band, more purposeful and more determined to just really show that message of love and support for everyone.

“That’s who we are, and anyone who has ever known us from the beginning knows that. It was just our small way of setting an example for our genre and our kids that we want to be a part of the change,” Kelley added. “Our intention from day one was to send a message of love and change. People kind of got our intentions twisted a little bit here and only time will show them where our hearts are in this.”

The trio’s new project features an abbreviated tracklist, with just seven songs. As its title suggests, a second part of the project will release at a later date.

“I know everybody is making these double records and stuff, even my favorite artists are, but I can’t consume that much music and wrap my head around a project that big. I’m good for about six or seven songs,” Kelley told Billboard. “It was like, ‘What if we put this out in like seven-song sections and then someone gets to dig really deep in these seven songs and then just when they are bored, we’ve got a next seven songs coming out, but it will be a part of a full collection,’” Kelley says.

Currently, the group is rising on the country radio charts with their new single “Like a Lady.”

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