About The Chicks
For as conservative as it can seem at times, country music has always been a place for rebels. One of the most successful bands of the ’90s and 2000s, The Chicks (formerly known as the Dixie Chicks) emerged as valuable counter-programming to Nashville’s more outdated narratives, mixing radio-friendly bluegrass with a progressive edge that made them outcasts to country purists but unlikely heroes in mainstream pop. Not that they ever courted the mainstream, per se. If anything, the band served as an early swell in a broader wave of country artists—including Miranda Lambert, Little Big Town and Lady A—that mixed the rootsy sound of early country with an image and feel suited to the modern day.
Formed in Dallas by sisters Emily and Martie Erwin (later Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire), the band started out as bluegrass revivalists, wading into more modernised arrangements with the arrival of vocalist Natalie Maines in the mid-'90s. Even before they were blacklisted from corporate radio for their denunciation of President George W. Bush and the 2003 invasion of Iraq, they carried an air of controversy, turning out songs that had a dark sense of humour (“Goodbye Earl”) and raw—albeit funny—sexuality (“Sin Wagon”) that came on a little too strong for some audiences. Still, the band always came off as earnest and upright, torch-carriers for an old-fashioned sense of truth that has always made country shine (“More Love”, “Truth No. 2”). After a 14-year hiatus from the studio, The Chicks released Gaslighter in 2020. Amidst a broader reckoning of the legacy of racism and slavery in America, they also removed the word “Dixie” from their name—a reminder that their true strength wasn’t in keeping things the same, but in understanding what it means to change.