Dixie Chicks

  • Country band from Dallas Texas, formed in 1989. Members are sisters Martie Erwin Maguire (vocals, fiddle, guitar, mandolin) and Emily Erwin Robison (banjo, lap steel guitar, accordion, dobro, guitar, bass guitar), along with Natalie Maines (lead vocals, guitar, bass guitar).
  • The original band included the Erwin sisters, plus Laura Lynch on upright bass and Robin Macy on guitar. They took their name from the Little Feat song Dixie Chicken, changing it to ‘chicks’ as it was an all-women band.
  • They recorded their first album on an independent label, Thank Heavens for Dale Evansin 1990. For concerts, they dressed as cowgirls, and had appearances at The Grand Ole Opry and A Prairie Home Companion, but their record did not get much airplay even with this exposure. Over the next year, they opened for big country artists like Garth Brooks and Reba McIntyre, and they won a Best Band award at the Telluride Bluegrass Festival – this gave them a growing fan base.
  • A second independent album was released in 1992. They evolved to a more contemporary country sound, to the dislike of Macy, who left the band after the album was released. Lynch took on lead vocals for their third album, but they still were not able to land a major record deal.
  • In 1995, their manager convinced a major record label to sign them, with the understanding that Lynch would be replaced. Maines joined the band to handle vocals. Maines was the daughter of one of their session musicians from the first albums, and her voice perfectly complemented the voices of the sisters. It gave the Dixie Chicks a more contemporary sound and a new image.
  • The revamped Dixie Chicks released their first album on a major label in 1998, Wide Open Spaces. It was a huge success – 3 singles hit #1 on the country chart (There’s Your Trouble, You Were Mine, and Wide Open Spaces), selling more than 12 million records. They won 2 Grammy awards, and sales in 1998 were higher than all other country groups combined for the year.
  • In 1999, they released Fly. It also sold over 10 million copies – Dixie Chicks is the only country band and only all-female group of any music style to have back to back records with sales exceeding 10 million copies. The album earned them 2 more Grammys, and 2 singles hit #1 on the country chart – Cowboy Take Me Away and Without You. 
  • As part of a settlement over a dispute with their record label, they were awarded their own label, and the released their next album under this label in 2002. Home was a record that was more of a bluegrass and ballad album compared to their previous work. It reached #1 on both the Country and Billboard 200 chart, selling over 6 million copies in the U.S. The singles Long Time Gone and Landslide both hit #7 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, showing that they had truly crossed over into popular music. And, 4 more Grammy awards for Dixie Chicks.
  • The band endured controversy for the next several years, after an incident at a concert in England where Natalie Maines criticized President Bush for the United States’ involvement in the Iraqi War. The country music establishment was highly critical of the band, and the group’s popularity suffered. While they apologized for the comment, they remained defiant in their right to free speech, and Maines later withdrew her apology. They also clashed with other country music stars over their political position, further polarizing them from Nashville.
  • In 2006, they released their final studio album, Taking the Long Way. The record had several tracks that indirectly referenced their controversy. The album debuted at #1 on both the country and Billboard 200 charts, even though the singles Not Ready to Make Nice and Everybody Knows were largely ignored by country music radio stations. And, 4 more Grammy awards, including the top awards of Song of the Year, Record of the Year, and Album of the Year.
  • The band took an extended hiatus from 2006 to 2013, playing occasional concerts but largely spending time with their families. A major tour occurred in 2016 – originally scheduled just for Europe, it was expanded to include over 40 shows in North America. Most venues were sell outs – apparently, there are still plenty of Americans who love their music.
  • Dixie Chicks won the hearts of millions of fans with their music, and subsequently lost many in the U.S., while they gained new fans with their defiance. Controversy can sell records. Watch their video Not Ready to Make Nice – you’ll see that they are not backing down. And, it’s a good song.

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