Introducing The Real Lady A: A Truly Phenomenal Black Woman
When I decided to launch a column that would focus on the true heroes of of the last four years, and throughout American History, (with the help and guidance of Living Out Loud columnist Dede Johnson) I knew that the Phenomenal Black Women column would need to be filled with stories of unsung sheroes: the Black women working hard to improve our country, our world, and the lives of all without receiving their due in the spotlight. So, when I found out I would have the chance to do a Q & A with the real Lady A, I knew she was perfect for the launch of She Explores Life’s Phenomenal Black Women column.
Lady A is a Pacific NW contemporary blues-funk performer who has gained recognition both nationally and internationally over the last 20 plus years. She was voted Best Blues Performer of the Year 2020 by the Washington Blues Society and she has opened for the likes of the late Denise LaSalle, Little Milton, late, Michael Burks, and Shemekia Copeland. She has also shared the stage with Grammy Winner’s, Bobby Rush, Zydeco King, Chubby Carrier, SugarRay Rayford, Dexter Allen and Bill “Howlin Madd” Perry and many more. Her hard work, talent, and accomplishments make understanding how a crew of white country singers could decide claiming her name as their own was OK.
I first read about Lady A’s story in “Rolling Stone” back in June of 2020. My mind was blown that any famous white person trying to prove that they were woke would think to take a Black Woman’s hard-earned name out from under her especially given the social outrage and national call for equal rights. So, I can’t fathom what Lady A must have felt the day the news came sliding into her DMs.
Apparently the country trio Lady Antebellum had decided to finally do something about their name’s association with the slavery-ridden era in US history as a show of support for racial equity. Their solution: change their name to Lady A.
To be fair, according to “RollingStone” a rep for Lady Antebellum says they had no idea that their was another artist with the name. Something a basic search of the internet would have likely revealed. However, after they were informed, their decision to keep using the name held strong.
Lady A’s talent combined with the challenges she has boldly faced over the last year made the opportunity to feature her in Phenomenal Black Women an honor. Lady A’s passion for equality and building a better world are further illustrated through the discussion group and resource The Truth is Loud, which she created for Black, Brown, Indigenous, POC and White Allies to help support them in delving into much needed discussions about Race.
Find out more in our Q & A below.
Q & A with The Real Lady A
Q: What was the path that led you to your musical Career?
Lady A: I grew up singing in church; I was a choir director at age 16 as I always had an ear for harmonies, it came naturally to me, also my mother is a gospel singer, my father a drummer, my brother is a drummer, and my niece is a vocalist. A musical family. I’ve always enjoyed all types of music from Gospel to Bachman, Turner Overdrive (BTO), Soul, Blues to Classical
Q: Which artists were your inspiration?
Lady A: My inspiration comes from the rich low tones of Mahalia Jackson, to the sassiness of Denise LaSalle, the storytelling of Bobby Rush to the educational aspect of Nina Simone and Lauryn Hill. (Quite the contrast) but I glean something from lyrics, the vibe, the depths from which they deliver their story on stage or listening on CD.
Q: What is the biggest challenge you have faced on your professional journey been?
Lady A: Being a Black female, band leader, manager, booking agent, entertainer, independent artist in Amerikkka.
Q: Specifically, I’d like to know more about your recent situation with the band formerly known as Lady Antebellum.
Lady A: To be an advocate for justice and/or ally; a person or persons in a position of power, means you may have to give up something, admit mistakes and acknowledge your privilege in order to lift up those who have not had the same privileges you were afforded. It means you actually mean you hope to be a refuge and inclusive and not just performative in the eyes of fans to gain something.
I’ve been Lady A for close to 30 years, I was Lady A before they were born. Sometimes you should do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. Or admit you didn’t mean the very thing you said. I have more respect for people who actually own their words.
Q: How are you working towards overcoming these challenges and dealing with this band who doesn’t seem to get why what they are doing is unacceptable?
Lady A: I pray for them. I concentrate on doing exactly what I have been doing and so that I have peace, for God is fighting this battle.
It has continued to give a voice to keyboard cowards who have no idea what is really going on. But again, I pray for them, and move on with my life.
Q: What have you learned from your journey that you would like most to share with others?
Lady A: That God always has a plan and what He has for your life, no one can take from you. I have been happy in my life – especially these last 15 years as I’ve grown into my own; meaning my voice as an activist in my community; my voice in standing not only for myself, but for others.
No one travels a journey alone in life, no matter what we may think. Someone has helped us whether through prayer, through gifts (no matter how slight); through advice…someone is in your corner pulling for you. If you have not found that someone, find them. I have a circle that is positive, prayerful and loves one another and celebrates successes and encourages through failure. Find your circle and put God at the helm. Everything after that is just another blessing.
Q: What are your thoughts and greatest concerns about the current social and political climate in the U.S?
Lady A: That there are still so many people teaching and exhibiting hatred rather than love.
Q: What is your hope/vision for the future, if you could have things change in a particular direction?
Lady A: That people will learn forgiveness through all the pain that has been spewed the last four years; and even before. Communication is key; talking openly and honestly about race. I run a discussion group called The Truth is Loud (thetruthisloud.org) where Allies and, perspective allies come together in discussion about race and how white people talk about race with their families, friends and communities; because they don’t do it enough if at all.
Honest communication is important. It’s time out for dancing around people’s feelings and micro-agressions about how race affects black people in Amerikkka. I’ve seen too many murders (modern day lynchings) on television as if it were a game show. it times for Real Talk, Real Change.
Q: What have your highlights and lowlights of 2020 been so far?
Lady A: My highlights have been I have learned and continue to learn to work a new way in music, in my church and in my community to assist others.
My lowlights? Not being able to hug my mom and my friends.
Q: If you could educate the general public about anything, what would it be?
Lady A: Talk to one another, talk to people you don’t know and find common ground. It’s easier and more educational.
Lady A’s music can be found at www.ladyababyblues.com where you can also find merchandise, upcoming live stream schedule and more.