Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 9 July 2020

Dixie Chicks now just The Chicks: 'we want to meet this moment'

Dixie is the nickname for the Confederate-era South

In this photo taken on February 27, 2014 (L-R) musicians Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison of The Chicks (then The Dixie Chicks) arrive at a gala honouring Rick Rubin in Beverly Hills, California. AFP
In this photo taken on February 27, 2014 (L-R) musicians Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison of The Chicks (then The Dixie Chicks) arrive at a gala honouring Rick Rubin in Beverly Hills, California. AFP

The country trio Dixie Chicks are now simply The Chicks, dropping a nickname for the Confederate-era South from their band name.

The stealthy switch saw the group amend all of their social media usernames and release a new song and accompanying video March March on Thursday.

The song's lyrics reference current social unrest, including anti-racism protests and police brutality, as well as fights to end gun violence, slow climate change and expand LGBTQ rights.

One verse reads:

"Standin' with Emma and our sons and daughters / Watchin' our youth have to solve our problems / I'll follow them, so who's comin' with me? / Half of you love me, half already hate me".

The Emma in this verse is Emma Gonzalez, a gun control activist who survived the February 2018 Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, in which 17 people were killed by one man, aged 19.

In the March March music video, scenes of protests flash on the screen, as do many names of people killed by the police in the US, including George Floyd, Sandra Bland, Amadou Diallo, Tamir Rice and Breonna Taylor.

The name change

"We want to meet this moment," the group wrote on its website, with no other explanation; the band's social media handles have all changed, and their new Instagram is simply The Chicks and already has more than 200,000 followers.

The move comes after another country group, Lady Antebellum, changed its name to Lady A to remove a slavery link.

The term "antebellum" refers to a time period before a war, and is widely associated with the pro-slavery American South in the pre-Civil War years.

That group faced backlash after it emerged that a black female blues singer in Seattle had been using the name Lady A for two decades.

In a statement to the music outlet Pitchfork, The Chicks said they had checked with a New Zealand duo already using the name.

"A sincere and heartfelt thank you goes out to 'The Chicks' of NZ for their gracious gesture in allowing us to share their name. We are honoured to co-exist together in the world with these exceptionally talented sisters. Chicks Rock!" the spokesperson told Pitchfork.

The Chicks' activism and how it meant they were shunned

This June 21, 2020 photo shows Dixie Outfitters in Branson, Mo. Protesters have been gathering outside the strip mall store, which specializes in Confederate flags, clothing and other merchandise. The protests have drawn people from opposing sides of the debate — Black Lives Matter demonstrators, as well as those who support the store and the Confederate flag. (Sara Karnes/The Springfield News-Leader via AP)
A June 21, 2020 photo shows Dixie Outfitters in Branson, Missouri. Protesters have been gathering outside the strip mall store, which specialises in Confederate flags. AP

The Texas-based group formerly known as the Dixie Chicks soared to fame in the late 1990s, but essentially vanished from music's main stage after lead singer Natalie Maines told a show in London she was "ashamed" that George W. Bush hailed from Texas – and that the band did "not want this war, this violence," referring to the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

The comment went viral and many country radio stations quickly ditched their music, which included hits like Wide Open Spaces, Goodbye Earl and a popular cover of Fleetwood Mac's Landslide.

Country is considered by many as US music's most conservative genre. Many critics saw the trio's ouster as a turning point that emphatically erased any edge it had left, with artists fearing getting "Dixie Chicked" if they voiced opinions.

But in March 2020 the group released a comeback single Gaslighter and said they would release their first new album since 2006, thought its May 1 issue date was postponed due to coronavirus.

The album is now expected to arrive July 17.

- With reporting from AFP

Updated: June 26, 2020 10:02 AM

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