Dixie Chicks were a multiple Grammy Award-winning country band from Dallas. They were commercially successful from the late ‘90s to the mid-2000s. The group originally had a far different look than it did during its commercially successful period.
The band began in the late ‘80s as a bluegrass band consisting of Laura Lynch, Robin Lynn Macy and Marty and Emily Erwin. The Erwin sisters had multi-instrumental talents, including the fiddle, mandolin, viola, banjo and dobro. Lynch and Macy provided the vocals. The original band released three albums, including “Thank Heavens for Dale Evans” in 1990, “Little Ol’ Cowgirl” in 1992 and “Shouldn’t a Told You That” in 1993. Though the band achieved local success, it found it hard to expand its popularity, with bluegrass being a very specific and less widely-popular style of music. After the third album, both Lynch and Macy parted with the band as they struggled to grow their audience, leaving the Erwin sisters as the only members.
Dixie Chicks underwent a change in 1995 with the addition of Natalie Maines as lead singer. Her exceptional voice was deemed a good fit with the instrumental talents of the Erwin sisters. The musicians also shifted their look and music towards contemporary country, away from bluegrass. The reformed version of Dixie Chicks released its first album together in 1998 under Sony Music Entertainment called “Wide Open Spaces.” The album was a huge commercial success and had popular songs like “Wide Open Spaces” and “You Were Mine.” The record earned the group two Grammy Awards. Dixie Chicks released three more albums, all of which were chart-toppers, including “Fly” in 1999, “Home” in 2002 and “Taking the Long Way” in 2006.
Around 2003, Dixie Chicks was enjoying great commercial success. Since its sound mixed several genres — including country, pop and soft rock — it achieved a wide audience while still having a strongly-country vibe. While the U.S. was contemplating the Invasion of Iraq, Dixie Chicks was on tour in London, where lead singer Maines said, “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.”
Once the comment had spread around the country community and the U.S. as a whole, the group received heavy backlash, as country radio stations and many country fans boycotted its music. Fans also committed public displays of disposing Dixie Chicks CDs. A public feud also erupted between Dixie Chicks and fellow country singer Toby Keith. As a whole, the backlash proved to be severely damaging to the band’s popularity. Though the performers initially tried to salvage their image and make some amends, it was clear that permanent damage had incurred, so the group decided to continue questioning the Iraq War and overwhelming patriotism.
After a few years, the band released its album “Taking The Long Way” in 2006. The lyrical content was very deep. One of the singles, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” is a direct response to the events that transpired a prior to their three-year hiatus. Noting that they felt less a part of the country world, the album included a less purely-country sound, incorporating more soft rock and pop. The album earned Dixie Chicks several more Grammys, which brought the total to 13 for the band’s career.
Dixie Chicks was once a musical force to be reckoned with in the country world. Whether it be more upbeat songs like “Ready to Run” and “Goodbye Earl,” or slower songs such as “I’ll Take Care of You” and “Without You,” Dixie Chicks are sure to give listeners great country music.