The Chicks, formerly and more famously known as The Dixie Chicks, released “Gaslighter”, their first album in 14 years, this past July. Prior to this release, the beloved country band had produced 7 full-length studio albums, won 13 Grammys – including album of the year in 2006 for “Taking The Long Way” – and sold over 30 million records in the United States alone.
Much of the award winning album, “Taking The Long Way,” served as a backlash to the widespread hate The Chicks received upon speaking out about their political beliefs.
The early months of 2003 were a stellar time for the Dixie Chicks. “Home,” their 2002 album, was tremendously successful and beautiful performances were given both on Saturday Night Live as well as the Super Bowl. The iconic country trio, thriving artistically and soaring through fame, had never before opened up politically.
Within moments, at a March 10th, 2003 concert held in London, The Chicks became the epitome of cancel culture. Singer Natalie Maines took a moment between songs to chat with the audience. At this time, the United States was about one week out from invading Iraq, marking the beginning of the Iraq war. While this decision was largely popular within the United States, the choice to invade Iraq was widely criticized across the globe, such as in places like London.
Maines faced the audience and announced the following: “just so you know, we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
The Chicks, too, were Texas natives, hailing from Dallas.
Very quickly country radio stations across the United States refused to play the band’s music on air. At the time, before social media’s dominating presence, people were not accustomed to their favorite artists being so vocal about politics. Many conservative listeners were completely shocked – appalled even – that their favorite musical trio did not share their political beliefs.
Taylor Swift, country-pop superstar, chose to never speak-out about her political beliefs until late 2018 when she proudly and publicly endorsed Phil Bresden, the democratic candidate for Senate in Tennessee, her home state. Through this endorsement she highly encouraged voter registration, specifically among younger age groups, across the United States.
“Lover,” Swift’s 7th studio album, was released less than a year later in August of 2019. Embedded within the 18-song sparkling-sweet pop collection is an anthem for LGBTQ+ equality, “You Need To Calm Down.” The accompanying music video features a handful of LGBTQ+ identifying celebrities, including Ellen Degeneres, Hailey Kiyoko and “Queer Eye’s” Fab 5. “Lover” also included a Chicks revival.
While “Soon You’ll Get Better” may not serve as a political statement in any way, The Chicks were back in the public eye, collaborating with another country icon who recently chose to voice left-leaning political ideologies.
This collaboration came with a new name, as “Dixie” has been commonly recognized as a nickname for the southern states which made up the Confederate States of America throughout the Civil War.
“Gaslighter,” their first album as The Chicks, shifts the trio more into the pop genre than ever before. The change in name, as well as fresh pop sounds, may be interpreted as a polite ‘goodbye’ to the community of country music who seemingly failed to support the band regardless of political leanings.