Las Vegas Sun

December 13, 2018

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Q & A: Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum

ACM Awards 2009

Erik Kabik

Lady Antebellum at the Academy of Country Music Awards at MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on April 5, 2009.

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Lady Antebellum performs at the 44th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Las Vegas on Sunday, April 5, 2009.

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From left, musicians Charles Kelley, Hillary Scott and Dave Haywood of the band Lady Antebellum pose backstage with their New Artist of the Year award at the 42nd Annual CMA Awards in Nashville, Tenn., on Wednesday, Nov. 12, 2008. Scott celebrated her birthday -- and her group's nomination as vocal group of the year -- at The Bank in Las Vegas the weekend of April 3-5, 2009.

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Beyond the Sun

The young country group Lady Antebellum is on a rocket to success. Based upon the No. 3 record “Love Don’t Live Here,” the trio was named last year’s top new group by the Academy of Country Music and new artist of the year by the Country Music Association. They also received a best new artist nomination at the 51st Grammy Awards, while “Love Don’t Live Here” received a Grammy nomination for best country performance. And their self-titled debut album was certified gold in February. Lady Antebellum is Hillary Scott (daughter of country artist Linda Davis), Charles Kelley (brother of pop artist Josh Kelley) and Dave Haywood. The group have been performing together for three years. Lady Antebellum is touring with Kenny Chesney and Miranda Lambert. The tour stops at the Joint at the Hard Rock on April 25. The Sun caught up with Kelley when he was in Las Vegas earlier this month for the 2009 ACM awards ceremony at the MGM Grand.

Q: How did winning the Academy of Country Music’s Top New Duo or Group award in 2008 impact your career?

A: It was one of the better jump starters for us. I think for new artists the hardest thing is putting the face with a name. People maybe heard our song on the radio or something but until they get several impressions of who you are — from whatever it is, whether TV or a live show, I feel like they don’t quite connect the dots. So after winning the award I can say we feel a little bit of a shift as far as people kind of knowing a little bit more about us after that. That’s the nice thing about award shows, that added exposure.

Q: Your career has come together very quickly.

A: The summer of '06 is when we officially started. Dave (Haywood) and I both are from Augusta, Ga. We grew up together, moved to Nashville together. We were in Nashville about four years when we met Hillary (Scott). Initially we just got together to write songs. Dave and I had been song writers in Nashville, trying to get around, out hustling, trying to meet people. We randomly met Hillary out in town one night. She said she was a singer. I asked her if she would like to write some songs with Dave and me, and a week later she came over. Instantaneously we had this chemistry. We wrote songs for about month and two months after we met we had this idea to actually start a group. Our first shot in Nashville was when we opened for my brother Josh, a pop artist. We ended up being a playing at the club a bunch for a year. It was sort of a showcase for us.

Q: When you started performing as a group did you do covers or did you do the songs you wrote when you first met?

A: Both. “Love Don’t Live Here” was our first hit. It was the first song in our set. Out of the first 10 songs we wrote, probably six of them are on the album. So there definitely was some nice chemistry in the beginning.

Q: The three of you come from diverse backgrounds, musically.

A: How do you describe what you do? We’re definitely a hodgepodge of influences. Mine, most heavily, would be Southern rock — the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd and stuff like that. Hillary is more from the country side — her mom is Linda Davis, a country singer. Dave, he’s a big fan of the Eagles and like that. So the three of us brought our own things to the table, trying to create some sort of a unique sound.

Q: Your impending tour with Kenny Chesney should be another boost to your career.

A: It will be huge for us. We’ll be doing about 60 dates with him this summer. It’ll be a lot of fun. We were lucky enough to do a show with him last summer. We opened up a random show somewhere and it was awesome. He invited us onto his bus and to hang out with him. He brought us up onstage to sing a song. He’s such a nice guy. He’s taking a big chance on us, putting us on this tour, so we owe him a lot. Hopefully we’ll make a lot of new fans. Then beginning in the fall we go to Canada to do 10 shows with Keith Urban, a label mate of ours. We’re huge, huge fans.

Q: What else lies ahead in the immediate future?

A: Our whole year is booked with a bunch of shows. That’s what we love doing. And we’re working on our next album, getting a head start on it. We just put out our third single, and we may put out a fourth from our first album. We’re doing so much writing we asked our label if we could get into the studio and get started on this. We’re putting a lot of pressure on ourselves for this second album and so we want to make it as great as we possibly can. We’re not sure when it will be released, we’re just getting started.

Jerry Fink can be reached at 259-4058 or at [email protected].

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