Backstage With Lady Antebellum

Apr. 22 2008, Published 1:00 p.m. ET

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Gone Country’s and are dancing in the front row of the performance during the CMT Awards Welcome Party held at Avenue in Nashville.

As partygoers nosh on salad, beef tenderloin, garlic mashed potatoes, chicken roulade and butternut squash risotto, they enjoy the sounds of country’s hottest new trio, comprised of Hillary Scott, Charles Kelley and Dave Haywood.

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The band has a lot to celebrate. Their single, Love Don’t Live Here Anymore, is currently #11 on the country charts, and their album is hot off the presses.

But who is Lady Antebellum, and why is there such buzz?

Turns out, Hillary is the daughter of country singer Linda Davis, who recorded a duet with called Does He Love You. Charles, of course, is the younger brother of Katherine Heigl’s Amazing hubby Josh Kelley.

Backstage at the venue, Charles is quick to add that most of the songs on their self-titled album were recorded at Josh’s house. Are the brothers competitive?

“With sports maybe, but with music we’ve always been really supportive,” Charles tells me. “He’s actually the reason I got back into music. He had moved to Nashville three years ago and talked me into moving down and giving music a second chance. He’s been great.”

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The tall blond admits he and girlfriend Cassie McConnell double-date with Josh and his Grey’s Anatomy star wife. What do they do? “Listen to Lady Antebellum records the whole time,” he chuckles.

Ah, fate has its way of working itself out. In fact, Cassie almost didn’t get the chance to land Charles because he had his eye on the band's brunette bombshell Hillary. Hillary made the first move on Charles when they met at Nashville club Twelfth and Porter in 2006. She approached him as a fan – and singer-songwriter.

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“Some people think that she and I are an item, but we’re not,” Charles admits. “Initially when I had her come over and write songs, I did try to get a date out of it. That was my fault. But we never did. I’m waiting for my time to strike.”

Hillary laughs, “Charles and I are not dating, Dave and I are not dating and Charles and Dave are not dating.”

While Hillary is single and mingling, Dave has set his sights on tourmate . (The band has also toured with Martina McBride, Taylor Swift, Tim McGraw and Kenny Chesney.)

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“She’s great,” he blushes. “We played the Opry with her a couple weeks ago and she actually got invited to be a member of the Opry that night. She’s a beautiful woman – I’d be lying if I said she wasn’t. She’s my celebrity crush. When I watched her on American Idol, I thought she was a really genuine person and really real, but I think she’s gorgeous and a real doll. A real down-home person.”

Speaking of homes, the group’s name is inspired by the Gone With The Wind-style residences used during a photo shoot.

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“We were in front of those old antebellum homes with the big, wide columns and we were looking back through the photos,” Charles says.

Dave adds, “At the time we were looking for a name, that word came out and it sounded really cool and confusing. We threw Lady in front of it and it stuck after that.”

For now, their home is on the stage. Tonight’s performance gets a major boost from Woman Scorned, which is a Before He Cheats-style bonus track on their album.

“I’d just gotten wronged by a boy and I just had to get revenge,” Hillary says. “I can pull from personal experience to get the anger up.”

Cut! It’s a wrap – until tomorrow.


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