The Dixie Chicks Are Back, but How Did They Get Together in the First Place?

The Dixie Chicks have long been one of the most controversial acts in country, but the sisters at the group’s center have been through plenty.


Apr. 22 2020, Updated 5:34 p.m. ET

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The Dixie Chicks have stormed back into prominence. The country trio just released their first single in 14 years, and they’ve also announced the date for their latest album. For fans who aren’t familiar with the trio from their previous run of prominence, it may not be totally clear exactly who the Dixie Chicks are. 

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Are the Dixie Chicks sisters?

Two of the three core members of the Dixie Chicks are sisters. Martie Maguire and Emily Robinson are the two sisters who founded the group together, and were eventually joined by Natalie Maines. Together, the three of them have won 13 Grammys and sold more than 30 million albums. 

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The Dixie Chicks were first formed as the two sisters developed talents for the fiddle and the banjo. In the first iteration of the group, they were joined by bassist Laura Lynch and guitarist Robin Lynn Macy to form the Dixie Chicks in 1989. The name came from the song “Dixie Chickens” by Little Feat. 

Initially the band was more traditional, and they all wore cowgirl dresses when performing. It wasn’t until Robin and Laura left the group and were replaced by Natalie Maines that the Dixie Chicks adopted the more modern, more broadly appealing sound that they’re known for today. 

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Success and controversy plague the band.

Even as they became more broadly appealing and commercially successful, they were also plagued by controversy in part because of their political views. The band released a number of successful albums between 1995 and 2003, and these albums helped them become one of the best selling acts in the history of country music. 

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In 2003, the band took the stage and made comments that would ultimately change the course of their careers. Just days before George W. Bush was set to invade Iraq and start the Iraq War, the band came out in fierce opposition of the idea. “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,” Natalie said at a concert in London. 

Following the comments, the Dixie Chicks were blacklisted across America.

In the aftermath of their comments, there were many fans of the Dixie Chicks who decided they no longer wanted to hear from the band. Their cover of ”Landslide” dropped from the No. 10 spot on the Billboard chart to completely off of the chart within two weeks, and Lipton, the sponsor of their tour, was barraged with comments about what Natalie had said. 

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Not long after the controversy, Natalie said that the band no longer considered themselves to be a part of the country music scene. Although they went on a coordinated press tour in an attempt to clarify their position on the war, most of the damage to their reputations had already been done. The Chicks stood their ground, and released several more albums in the aftermath of the controversy before disappearing for more than a decade. 

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