Of course, they were banned from country radio back in 2003, after lead singer Natalie Maines publicly spoke out against former President George Bush and the invasion of Iraq at a show in London, England, saying:
“Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all.
We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
And the girl group recently stopped by The Kelly Clarkson Show, where Kelly asked them about that time and what it was like for them personally.
Natalie said that the hardest part about it was not how it affected them, but other people in their lives:
“I’m a fighter, so I didn’t like, crumble. I did crumble, like after we won all the Grammy’s. I kinda fell apart after that.
I think I was just in this fight mode, and then it all sort of came crashing down.”
They won four Grammy’s in 2003 for their Home album including Best Country Album, Best Recording Package, Best Country Instrumental Performance for “Lil’ Jack Slade”, and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal for “Long Time Gone.”
In the wake of the tragic George Floyd murder back in the summer of 2020, they officially changed their name from The Dixie Chicks to The Chicks.
Kelly asked them about that and how, as a longtime fan, she wondered what would cause them to change it after so many years being known as The Dixie Chicks.
According to Natalie, they’d wanted to drop the “Dixie” part for a years, and it just felt right to do it then:
“Well I think just after George Floyd and all of that.
We’d wanted to get rid of the ‘Dixie’ part of our name for a long time, but it seemed like a huge thing to do.
So we would call, you know, our merch would say ‘DCX’, and we always referred to ourselves as ‘The Chicks.’ So it seemed like a really natural change, and it seemed kind of seamless.”
They explained prior to this interview that they never wanted to be associated to the Confederacy, and that they hated how that was always a connotation with their name.
When they first came up with it, they saw it as a reference to the Southern region of the United States and everybody south of the Mason-Dixon line.
“I always thought it was a region, south of the Mason-Dixon line.”
They also talked about the very first time they played a show together, and the early days starting out as a girl band in Texas.
Here’s the whole interview with Kelly:
The Chicks Say They “Never Wanted To Be In” Country Music
The Chicks aren’t mincing any words, that’s for sure.
In a recent interview with the LA Times promoting their current six-night residency at Planet Hollywood in Las Vegas, they discussed how the Bush incident in March of 2003 changed their career trajectory and place in country music.
I’m sure we all remember the gist of it, but in case you don’t know too much about it, the girl band received major backlash when lead singer Natalie Maines said at a show in London in 2003 that they were ashamed to be from the same state as former President George Bush (sitting President at the time), and they didn’t support the war and imminent invasion of Iraq.
It triggered major backlash back in the states, and got them blacklisted by many country radio stations, damaged sales and even caused people to stop buying concert tickets, just to name a few things quickly. Maines did issue an apology several days later.
Needless to say, it wasn’t great for their reputation during what was a very tumultuous time in America, and it sounds like two decades later, they don’t regret it at all.
In fact, Natalie Maines say it’s still a defining aspect of their career “in the way it set us free.” She added that it got them out of being in a “box” with country music, adding that they “never wanted to be in” it in the first place:
“It’s defining in the way it set us free.
It got us out of this box of country music, which we never wanted to be in and never felt like that’s who we were.
We didn’t have to do any of that bulls— anymore. It wasn’t like, ‘Oh, country music, please take us back.’ It was middle fingers: ‘Bye!'”
The Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, have released eight albums within the country genre, and have won 13 Grammy awards for their work, including the Grammy for Album of the Year in 2007 for Taking the Long Way.
Of course, they remain a pretty controversial band to this day, and are still very outspoken in terms of their politics.
The Chicks, formerly known as the Dixie Chicks, sat down with Apple Music’s Kelleigh Bannen to talk about some of their hits, their name change, performing with Beyoncé and more.
But they also got into coming up as females in the industry.
Kelleigh talked about how she was asked to only wear skirts or shorts to radio meetings and the Chicks followed up with a story about how they once got in a TON of trouble for ordering a round of shots to the stage… in a bar. Yes, doing a shot on stage got them dragged into the Sony office for a talkin’ to.
MARTIE:We did a promo concert at a smoky bar one night and it was a bunch of radio people. I remember we got in a shit ton of trouble because we ordered beers up to the stage.
NATALIE: No, shots. We did shots.
MARTIE:Oh, shots. Okay. Whatever. Alcohol. Alcohol… We got in so much trouble and were called into the Sony office the next day about the fact that we drank. Isn’t that crazy? This wasn’t the 50’s. This was the 90’s. Because we drank onstage.
NATALIE:Nashville has kind of … I don’t know. Back then. I don’t know what it’s like now. But they did have a reputation for having this shwarmy formulaic way of breaking artists. I think most artists did that… I think it’s easier to stay strong, be yourself, speak up when there’s three. Because really also, I just don’t think they gave us much flack because we were sort of an army.
Imagine getting scolded by your record label for ordering some drinks at a show? Something tells me this wasn’t a problem for many of the male artists in country music…
But maybe it’s a product of the times as well. I mean, nowadays, most artists perform with some form of alcoholic beverage on stage, especially the men, and even artists like Ashley McBryde and Miranda Lambert are known for having a drink or two on stage.