NEWS that the Dixie Chicks will perform in Australia next year has brought joy to many country fans.
The trio from Texas, who rose to fame in the late 90s, are no strangers to Australian audiences, but next year’s trip will be just their second time here since the notorious London concert in 2003 where lead singer Natalie Maines declared they were ashamed President George W Bush was from Texas.
That comment, on the eve of the War in Iraq, sparked outrage in the USA, with radio stations urged to stop playing their music, and death threats made against Maines.
Sisters, and multi-instrumentalists, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison were teenagers when they started playing together in a four-piece band with guitarist Robin Lynn Macy and bassist Laura Lynch.
The other two woman, who were in their 30s, made way in the mid 1990s for Maines to join the Dixie Chicks as lead singer before the band released the album Wide Open Spaces, in 1998.
Two more followed – Fly in 1999 and Home in 2002 – before the concert in London’s Shepherd’s Bush Theatre, where Maines made the comment about the then US president.
Across the United States, conservative fans denounced the group and staged ritual CD destruction ceremonies. And many radio stations stopped playing their songs, causing their single at the time, Travelin’ Soldier to disappear from the charts.
Most disturbingly, Maines received death threats, prompting heavy security at their concerts, including metal detectors.
The Dixie Chicks’ last tour to Australia came in 2006, promoting Taking The Long Way, the band’s only album since the 2003 drama, which was recorded in Los Angeles rather than Nashville, and included many songs dealing with the saga.
It picked up five Grammys in 2007, but failed to gain a single finalist nomination at that year’s Country Music Awards in Nashville.
One Australian fan I spoke to following the announcement the Dixie Chicks were touring was Brooke Giles from Chinchilla, who already has tickets booked to see them play at CMC Rocks Queensland next March.
Brooke, who saw the trio at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on their last visit to Australia – the Accidents & Accusations Tour in 2006 – said she hoped everyone had moved on from the incident.
“Watching the Not Ready To Make Nice DVD I cried, because for a band that had so many hits, (they) just got so backlashed.
“They were part of the country music family, then all of a sudden they weren’t. Toby Keith is very political but we’ve never seen him get any threats or have smashed CDs.”