It’s hard to know what the trio from Lady Antebellum is more excited about — the release of their second album, their two Grammy nominations or that they will perform at the show, which airs Sunday on CBS.
Regardless, this is a big week in the whirlwind lives of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood. “We have to take naps to keep going, but that’s OK,” gushes Scott. “This is everything we’ve dreamed of. It’s completely worth the loss of sleep.”
This story first appeared in the January 28, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Lady A, as the band is known, catapulted onto the scene in the 2008 when its self-titled album debuted at number-one on the country charts, spawning several radio-friendly hits including “Love Don’t Live Here Anymore” and “I Run to You,” their first chart-topper. The first single off the new album, “Need You Now,” spent five weeks at number one and gave Lady A the distinction of being the first country group to break into the top 10 of Billboard’s all-genre Hot 100 chart since the Dixie Chicks in 2007.
It won Group of the Year from the Country Music Association last year, and it has opened for such country superstars as Kenny Chesney and Keith Urban. At the Grammys, it’s vying for Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals and Best Country Song for “I Run to You.”
But the band’s success isn’t all that surprising, considering the pedigree of its members. Kelley and Haywood are childhood friends from Augusta, Ga., who cowrote music in college, and Kelley’s brother is pop singer Josh Kelley, who had a smash hit with “Amazing” (and is also married to Katherine Heigl). Scott is the daughter of Grammy-winning country singer Linda Davis and musician Lang Scott.
The result is a partnership that has Scott, with her pitch-perfect voice, trading lead vocals with Kelley’s gravelly sound. Haywood provides the harmonies and is the lead guitarist. They cowrote 10 of the 11 songs on their first album and eight of the 11 cuts on the second.
In addition to its success on the charts, Lady A has embraced social media as a way to reach their fans. For example, their Web site features Webisode Wednesdays, where a new video of the band is posted every week. “We get to bring people along on different journeys with us,” Scott says. “Not everybody could be with us at the Sugar Bowl when we sang the National Anthem or in Switzerland for our first European show. And selfishly, it’s also a video diary for us and a way to capture our career so we can look back 10 years down the road.”
The band has also worked closely with iTunes; its new album was pre-released on the site with a new cut being offered every week. The band’s musical success has also led to an updated sense of personal style. After working with a stylist and posing for countless photo and video shoots, “our tastes have evolved,” Kelley says. “I never used to care about clothes, but now we really try to push ourselves to look sharp and cohesive. For the image of a band, the packaging is important.”
And, adds Scott, “at awards shows, we take it up a notch.” Although they haven’t chosen what they’re going to wear to the Grammys yet, at the Country Music Association awards in November, Scott wore Alexander McQueen, Kelley rocked Dolce & Gabbana and Haywood chose J. Lindeberg.