Known for most of their career as Dixie Chicks, they were named after the song "Dixie Chicken
" by Little Feat. That song is about a woman who charms guys into falling in love with her, then takes them for all they're worth. On June 25, 2020, they changed their name to "The Chicks," dropping the "dixie" because it refers to the American South during a time of slavery.
Dixie Chicks independently released their debut album, Thank Heavens for Dale Evans in 1990. It was funded by Penny Cook, daughter of Texas Senator John Tower, who gave them $10,000 to make a record. At the time, they were more of a Bluegrass band, but became more mainstream country when Maines was added and original members Lynch and Macy left. Commercial success came in 1998, following the release of Wide Open Spaces, the trio's major label debut on Sony Music's Monumental Records.
In 2001, Dixie Chicks sued Sony Records for $4.1 million in unpaid royalties. The band ultimately settled out of court, with Sony awarding the trio their own record label imprint, Open Wide Records, in turn affording Dixie Chicks more control over their music.
Dixie Chicks sparked political controversy in March 2003 in the lead up to US-led invasion of Iraq. During a concert at London's Shepherds Bush Empire, Natalie Maines told the audience that she was "ashamed" President George W. Bush was from the Dixie Chicks' native Texas: "We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." The comment resulted in a major backlash. Some radio stations - mostly in the South - boycotted the trio's songs in deference to listeners who considered them un-American. President Bush even responded to the comment during an interview with Tom Brokaw: "The Dixie Chicks are free to speak their mind. They can say what they want to say... they shouldn't have their feelings hurt just because some people don't want to buy their records when they speak out. Freedom is a two-way street... I don't really care what the Dixie Chicks said. I want to do what I think is right for the American people, and if some singers or Hollywood stars feel like speaking out, that's fine. That's the great thing about America. It stands in stark contrast to Iraq." The release of Dixie Chicks' track, "Travelin' Soldier
," coincided with Maines' comments, causing the song to tumble from its #1 position on the Country charts and disappear entirely.
Dixie Chicks were the subject of 2006 documentary film, Shut Up and Sing, directed by Academy Award-winning director Barbara Kopple and Cecilia Peck. The film documents the trio over the three year period following Natalie Maines' public criticism of George W. Bush.
They became the highest selling female group in the United States, having shifting nearly 30 million albums by 2011.
As of 2011, the Dixie Chicks have won 13 Grammy Awards, five of which were awarded in 2007 at the 49th Grammy Awards Show. Among the accolades received that night was the coveted Grammy Award for Album of the Year, awarded for Taking the Long Way.
Natalie Maines is the daughter of Lloyd Maines, a noted steel guitar player and producer. He was instrumental in bringing the current lineup of Dixie Chicks together in 1995, which jump-started their sudden popularity and change in sound.
Maines released her rock influenced debut album, Mother, on May 7, 2013.
As a child, Maines preferred Michael Jackson
and the Grease
soundtrack to Nashville sounds. "I had never bought a country album in my life, or even listened to one all the way through," she told Rolling Stone
. "Growing up, I thought I was going to be Madonna
. I wanted to be a pop star."