On The Return Of The Dixie Chicks: A Brief History

Image: Courtesy of Entertainment Weekly.
Perhaps you're already familiar with major Dixie Chicks hits like "Goodbye Earl" and "Cowboy Take Me Away." But there's a lot more to these Southern singers than meets the ear.

Before you hop on board with their summer 2016 tour — yep, this trio of ladies is finally headed back into the limelight — you may want to know why they've been mostly hanging out in the wings for such a long time.

Here's a quick rundown: The Dixie Chicks became hit-makers way back in 1998, and were well loved across America and the world for tunes like "Wide Open Spaces" and "There's Your Trouble." But things started to get a little messy in 2003. During a concert in London, lead singer Natalie Maines made what would ultimately become a highly controversial statement back in the states.

"We don't want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the president of the United States," she told audiences, referring George W. Bush. While the band got major applause for taking a stance in England, they got slammed on the other side of the pond, facing fallout from Maines' remarks for years. Conservative talk show hosts panned the trio, radio stations boycotted their songs, and fans decamped in the name of patriotism. In one instance, protestors drove a 33,000-pound tractor over Dixie Chick albums and memorabilia — a gesture of symbolic obliteration.

Obviously, for a while it was pretty tough to be the Dixie Chicks. Several years after the incident, in 2006, the band even became the subject of an award-winning documentary about free speech, which focused on the long-term effects of Maines' Bush comment. Though perhaps the most well-remembered part of the movie, entitled Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, actually came from its promotion: that Entertainment Weekly cover featuring the three women naked but for the text painted on their bodies.

Since then, the band has been on and off hiatus, with Maines and fellow Dixie Chicks Emily Robison and Martie Maguire releasing some solo and tandem material. In 2013, the three joined forces for a Canadian tour that also included a handful of European shows. Next year, for the first time in years, they'll reunite for more than 40 shows across the U.S. and our neighbor to the north.

As the women themselves might put it, they've been a longtime gone — but it looks like they're finally back. Check out the full concert details over on the Dixie Chicks website.

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