The Chicks wanted to drop 'Dixie' from their name 'years and years and years ago'

When the band known as the Dixie Chicks dropped “Dixie” from their name last month, it might’ve seemed like a fresh decision, a quick response to the national conversation about racism and which symbols need to go in order for the country to heal. The truth is that it was a long time coming.

“We wanted to change it years and years and years ago,” Natalie Maines told the New York Times in a story published Wednesday. “I just wanted to separate myself from people that wave that Dixie flag.”

Maines and the other two members of the trio, sisters Emily Strayer and Martie Maguire, were subject to an avalanche of hate after what they call “the incident.” It happened in 2003, after Maines said during a performance in London, as the country was invading Iraq, “We’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.” Country music fans and even some of their fellow artists quickly turned against them. Radio stations refused to play their music, even drove a tractor over them.

But they had also had massive success — becoming the best-selling female group in America, with albums including 2006’s Taking the Long Way — under the name, so they didn’t think changing it was an option. They finally made the switch after Strayer last month saw an Instagram post of a Confederate flag referred to as the “Dixie Swastika.” Strayer’s reaction, she said, was “I don’t want to have anything to do with that.”

They were never really in love with their name anyway. Strayer and Maguire chose it because of the Little Feat song “Dixie Chicken.”

“We were literally teenagers when we picked that stupid name,” Maguire said.

As the story notes, the group separated from country music long before the name change made it official. They famously made a comeback from all the President Bush-era hate in 2006, when they swept the Grammys with their very personal album addressing the brutal experience of being cast out of the country music family.

Their high-profile performance alongside Beyoncé at the 2016 Country Music Association Awards, singing her song “Daddy Lessons,” did not make them feel any more welcome.

“They treated us very weird backstage,” Maines said.

Singer Alan Jackson even walked out on their performance.

“For them to disrespect her that way was disgusting,” Maines said of Beyoncé.

The Chicks performed with Beyoncé at the 2016 CMA Awards. (Photo: Image Group LA/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)
The Chicks performed with Beyoncé at the 2016 CMA Awards. (Photo: Image Group LA/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Of course, they’ve received criticism for becoming the Chicks, but it’s not really affecting them this time around. Maines pointed out that she now calls out the president daily, thanks to social media.

Strayer is just over being affected by outside opinions.

“I used to care way too much what people thought,” Strayer said.”I really have a don’t-give-a-[expletive] part to me now, which I didn’t have before.”

The Chicks will drop their new album, the first under their shortened name, on July 17.

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