Back in 2006, three musicians came together in Nashville, Tenn., the heart of country music, to form the band Lady Antebellum. The members — Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley, and Dave Haywood — quickly established themselves as forces in the music scene. Lady Antebellum released its eighth studio album in 2019, proving the group’s enduring appeal. The band also earned positive reception along the way, leading to a total of five Grammy wins out of an impressive 10 nominations.
The trio is a model of crossover success, appealing to pop music, country music, and even inspiring a movie name with one of its songs, "American Honey," reported The New York Times. But do you know how the band got its name? The answer might surprise you. And although Lady Antebellum started from humble origins, the band members also share both family connections and big-time links to the music industry.
Do you have a favorite song by "Lady A?" Have you followed the group since the very beginning? Let’s giddy-up for the untold truth of Lady Antebellum.
Hillary Scott literally grew up on tour
What are some of your earliest childhood memories? Do you remember going on tour with one of the most famous country music singers ever? This amazing scenario is exactly the upbringing of Lady Antebellum lead singer Hillary Scott. A young Scott spent some of her young life on the road with her mother, country music singer Linda Davis. According to Homecoming Magazine, country music legend Reba McEntire discovered Davis after inquiring about the voice she kept hearing in demo recordings. Davis and her husband (who played in McEntire’s band) brought their daughter along to support McEntire’s tour but little did she know the profound effect it would have. As Davis admitted, "We didn’t think Hillary was paying attention to what we were doing back then, but now, when I hear her interviews, I see that she really was!"
Scott spoke to CBS News about her childhood memories on the road as part of the country music scene. "For kindergarten I was home-schooled, and I literally lived on the bus and would watch school on videotape," said Scott. "I would, like, cry when the school bus would go by. I’m like, ‘I want friends that aren’t 35!’" Still, many of those older friends must have been pretty cool.
Lady Antebellum keeps it in the family
Though Lady Antebellum only has three members, the trio has quite a few family connections. According to The Boot, singer Charles Kelley and his wife Cassie McConnell began dating at the time that she was a publicist for Kelley’s older brother, Josh Kelley, who is also a popular country music singer. In fact, in its early days, Lady Antebellum wrote most of its songs at Josh’s house, Charles revealed to NPR.
Lady Antebellum’s on-tour drummer is Chris Tyrrell, but the family connection isn’t immediately apparent — Tyrell is Hillary Scott’s husband. In sticking with true family values, he took time off touring to stay home and look after his and Scott’s twin baby girls. Tyrell told People of the new role, "I’ve been a bandmate, employee, husband and dad, so I’m okay removing a hat."
As for the band’s third member? According to WKML, Dave Haywood briefly played in a jazz band together with Josh Kelley. The connection started since Haywood and Charles Kelley were middle school classmates.
A chance encounter led to the formation of Lady Antebellum
Lady Antebellum started when two musically-inclined friends from Georgia crashed courses with an aspiring songbird in what was basically the perfect place for that to happen. Describing the long personal history of her two bandmates, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood, lead singer Hillary Scott told NPR, "The boys went to middle school, high school, college together, and then right out of college after they’d been out a year, moved up to Nashville to start writing songs." CBS News detailed the pair’s music collaborations even further, explaining how Kelley and Haywood both ditched their post-University of Georgia real world gigs (construction and accounting, respectively) for a shot at stardom in Music City.
On a night out on the town in Nashville, Scott, then an aspiring musician, recognized Kelley from his Myspace page. Scott admitted that she liked his music, so Kelley suggested the two write together, and the rest, as they say, is history. And while fate seemed to have a positive path for this songwriting trio, one thing wasn’t written in the stars, as Kelly also confessed, "Thought I might get a little date out of it if nothing else." Guess those Grammy statues will have to do.
Hillary Scott did not get a ticket to Hollywood
While its undeniable that luck plays a big role in breaking into an industry like entertainment, perseverance is always a good idea, too. Lead singer Hillary Scott perfectly engaged in the latter to follow her dreams. Back when American Idol was one of the hottest TV shows in the world, the singer thought this could be her chance to shine. Things didn’t quite go as planned — twice.
Scott admitted to Entertainment Tonight (via Rolling Stone) that both of her auditions for American Idol flopped. Looking back, she said, "I never got to see [the judges]. I literally performed for the production assistants and the interns, and I just didn’t make it." Clearly this didn’t matter with Scott, proving you don’t have to face the wrath of Simon Cowell in order to become a successful singer. And in a nice "I told you so" moment, Lady Antebellum later performed on American Idol.
Charles Kelley went from drunken pre-gamer to doting dad
Country music lyrics are often about celebrating the good life and the parties that go along with it. So, it’s unsurprising that a country music and pop act like Lady Antebellum would like to similarly party in real life. It’s a long-gone trait of the band that singer Charles Kelley is actually still pretty open about. As he recounted to Rare, "We’d be drinking and playing ping pong for four hours before every show."
Eventually, he and the rest of his bandmates found significant others, and all had children of their own. Settling down and becoming a dad definitely changed Kelley’s perspective on life. In an interview for The Boot, he admitted, "I’ve definitely had a little bit of a come-to-Jesus with my wife and the band about controlling my drinking." By 2017, he’d found a different kind of excitement before each show in the form of "bathing [his] baby and putting them down on the bed," Kelley told Rare, adding, "And then you have to flip that switch and an hour later jump onstage and try to be a rock star. That’s really weird."
A tragic loss changed Hillary Scott’s entire perspective
Fame and fortune often limit privacy, which can be problematic when it comes to the most intimate moments in a celebrity’s life. But when lead singer Hillary Scott bravely opened up about joined the unfortunate list of country stars who have suffered a tragedy, she did so because she wanted to be open about a topic not often discussed by anyone, let alone a famous musician. Detailing her struggle after enduring a miscarriage to Good Morning America, Scott said it fundamentally changed her as a mother, and made her want recognize some of the untold pain of the experience that so many women endure. "I feel like there’s this pressure that you’re just supposed to be able to snap your fingers and continue to walk through life like it never happened," she said.
Scott seemed to come out stronger from her devastating experience. She turned her heartbreak into music by releasing an album of hymns called, Love Remains. Scott recorded the record with her family — mother, Linda Davis, father Lang Scott, and her sister Rylee Scott. The Lady Antebellum singer opened up about writing the album’s first single called "Thy Will." She said in the midst of dealing with the miscarriage, "It was at my most raw place that I could have ever been when this song truly poured out of me." What a truly courageous story from this talented singer.
Lady Antebellum lost a beloved colleague
Part of Lady Antebellum’s success can be attributed to the group’s genre-crossing ability, expertly combining pop and country music. It’s not to say the band did this alone — singer-songwriter Michael Busbee played a huge role in developing the Lady Antebellum’s unique sound. Busbee was at the top of his game in both genres, lending his talent to songs for Katy Perry, Florida Georgia Line, Pink, and Maren Morris. Sadly, Busbee passed away far too young in 2019. He was just 43 years old when he succumbed to brain cancer. Soon after, Lady Antebellum posted a touching video tribute to their friend and producer on Instagram.
Lady Antebellum’s 2019 album Ocean featured the song "Alright," which the band co-wrote alongside Busbee. Speaking with Taste of Country about the collaboration, lead singer Hillary Scott said, "To me, ["Alright"] embodies how he lived: living in the moment. Enjoying what life has to offer. Knowing that it’s going to have ups and downs." The heartbreaking event only added to her support for cancer research and led her to use band’s popularity to raise awareness for the cause. As Scott said, she was "using our platform in whatever way we can to move towards curing that awful disease."
What does the name Lady Antebellum really mean?
No, Lady Antebellum isn’t another name for the band’s lead singer, Hillary Scott. Band member and guitarist Dave Haywood disclosed the origins of the now famous moniker in an interview with NPRl, saying that the band was "taking some photos one day in front of one of these old antebellum homes and, you know, one of us said the word and we all kind of stopped and said, man, that could be a name." What exactly is an antebellum? Well if you forgot from history class, the Antebellum Period was the historical era in the southern United States leading up the country’s civil war.
From there, all members agreed that the term antebellum had a nice ring to it and sounded equally "nostalgic" and "had a unique sound to it." Haywood further explained that the trio "had a lady in the group, obviously, and threw Lady in the front of it for no reason." The name just "stuck ever since," and thus, the band officially started as Lady Antebellum.
Charles Kelley is a pro inside and outside of the music industry
While not too wild if you think about it, Lady Antebellum singer Charles Kelley has a surprising skill. As he told Golf Digest, Kelly loves to play golf while on tour. And this isn’t just a casual day on the links, because the singer is quite an excellent player. In fact, Kelley said golf was actually his first passion before music. It also helps that he grew up in Augusta, Ga. — home of the most prestigious golf tournament in the world, the Masters.
Kelley played competitively in junior leagues, and as he humbly put it, "I was a pretty good golfer." In reality, he was pretty great, considering as a young man he won the Future Masters and North & South championships by age 11. "And then when I was 12, I got my first set of drums, and music became the focus. I use that as an excuse. My golf game just got crappy," he joked.
The country music star continued playing in college and remains a fantastic golfer — a 5-handicap, in fact. Plus, he had a chance to play the Augusta National course four times, showing that his switch to music didn’t end his dream of playing at golf’s most famous course.
Lady Antebellum’s most famous song was almost an afterthought
Every big band has a signature "breakthrough" moment — a time when everything seems to click and launches a group into the musical stratosphere. For Lady Antebellum, this moment came with its second studio album Need You Now and its lead single, the title track.
According to Billboard, Lady Antebellum’s hit song "Need You Now" is the second best-selling digital country song of all time. The song received glowing critical acclaim, going on to win the Record of the Year prize at the 2011 Grammy Awards. And as the official Grammy website summarized, "In accepting that award, lead singer Charles Kelley said, ‘This song has completely flipped our world upside down.’"
Before "Need You Now" took off, and all the fame that came with it, the band thought the song wasn’t even good enough to be recorded. Hillary Scott admitted to Billboard, "It was literally the last song we played in our A&R meeting for this record." She even said that Kelly warned that the song "might be crap but I’m going to play it." Lady Antebellum can count their lucky stars that producers recognized the earliest stage of a smash hit. The record company took a chance, encouraged the band fine tune the song, and good golly did the results pay off.
Just how much is Lady Antebellum worth?
With eight studio albums under its belt as of 2019, Lady Antebellum is worth a pretty penny. As reported by Yahoo! Finance, Lady Antebellum was worth a collective $41 million in 2019. Leading the pack is Charles Kelley, who alone is worth $20 million, in part from his solo album The Driver. His real estate prowess helped too, considering the nearly $1.3 million profit he likely earned from the sale his Nashville, Tenn. home in 2017, per Variety.
Next up is Hillary Scott, who was reportedly worth $11 million as of 2019. She also had a solo album, Love Remains, which featured The Scott Family — her mom, dad, and sister — as the supporting cast. Some of these earnings probably went to the upkeep of her own sweet crib. Variety reported that Scott and her husband, drummer Chris Tyrell, bought a roughly $2 million home near Nashville back in 2012.
Not to be outdone in the real estate market, third member Dave Haywood and his wife acquired a sizable home, unsurprisingly located near Nashville. Variety reported that the Haywoods purchased a $2.1 million home in 2012, quite the upgrade from Haywood’s much more modest condo purchased one year earlier. The guitarist certainly earned the new digs since Haywood is worth a reported $10 million.
Don’t forget about the guitarist
The quietest member of Lady Antebellum, Dave Haywood, had quite the unique childhood. First, he grew up in a household with dentistry royalty — that is, his father. Haywood spoke of his dad to GAC (via The Boot), "In the dental world, he is a rock star. He’s the Bruce Springsteen of the dental world!" Why? The elder Haywood’s dental claim to fame is that he invented the overnight teeth-whitening method in the 1980s. And it wasn’t only pearly whites in the Haywood household — in fact, the family sounded like a ready-made band. As Haywood said of his childhood, "My dad taught me to play guitar back in middle school, and my mom taught me how to play piano in elementary school … Everyone in my family sings, so it all comes directly from them."
Not only did Haywood grow up in a musical family, but he also grew his personal family from the music industry. As The Hollywood Reporter noted, his wife Kelli Cashiola was a marketing vice president at Warner Music Nashville. Quite the romantic, Haywood reportedly proposed by creating a "wintry wonderland inside the house and using Christmas lights to spell ‘Will you marry me?’ out front." Cute!
Lady Antebellum still loves its hometown bar
Before Lady Antebellum turned into a country music juggernaut, the band was just another act among many in Nashville, Tenn. When it was finally time to play live shows, the band got its start at the popular local bar and music venue 3rd & Lindsley, according to CBS News.
In 2018, Lady Antebellum played its first show as a band at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheater, and the gig served as a poignant contrast for singer Charles Kelley. Speaking with Rolling Stone about the momentous occasion in Colorado, and marveling at how far the band had come from its earliest days, Kelley specifically name-dropped his old watering hole. "It’s kind of exciting to see how long we can do this thing, you know?" he mused to the mag, adding, "We might not always be able to play Red Rocks, but we’ll play the hell out of 3rd & Lindsley."
It’s true that 12 years after the band’s first gigs in Music City, and even after world tours and all the fame, it still rocks out at 3rd & Lindsley. Lady Antebellum even taps the venue for notably important events, like the October 2019 special album preview party held for Ocean, the group’s eight studio album.