Dixie Chicks on Being Blacklisted in Country Music: We Were the First to Feel the 'Cancel Culture'

It was 17 years ago, almost exactly, that the Dixie Chicks realized how quickly their lives and careers could change, when lead singer Natalie Maines expressed, while on stage in London, that they were ashamed that then-President George W. Bush was from their home state of Texas. Almost overnight, their careers came to a near-screeching halt, with country radio stations banning their music, and their once-loyal fans burning their CDs in an act of protest.

The trio, which also includes Emily Strayer (formerly Robison) and Martie Maguire, is back with a new album, Gaslighter, with the title track as the debut single. While the Dixie Chicks are, in hindsight, grateful for the break, they never imagined how hard they would have to work to win back country music.

"I think we were one of the first people to feel that cancel culture," Maines said on The Ellen DeGeneres Show. "What I said back then would not even be a thing today because it was really mild compared to what people say today. So on one hand, everyone has this platform where they can say whatever they want to say. But on the other hand, this platform can move really quickly and ruin people's lives."

The Dixie Chicks, who have nine children between them, used the time to raise their families, something that Maines was insistent on doing, even when Strayer and Maguire were ready to get back to work.

"I feel like after the whole controversy, and that feels like eons ago, but we were pretty worn out at the same time," Strayer acknowledged. "I think we needed a break."

"Gaslighter," written by all three Dixie Chicks members, along with Jack Antonoff, was inspired by Maines' divorce from actor Adrian Pasdar, which ended up becoming the cornerstone for the entire record.

"The sound ... was shaping up, but like Emily said, it started with that 'Gaslighter' sound," Robison told Zane Lower on Apple Music, "and then it was easier to kind of complete the whole sounds once you kind of had that lead song."

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Gaslighter is scheduled to be released on May 1. The Dixie Chicks hint that a big tour is coming later this year, although they have yet to reveal any details. Pre-order Gaslighter by visiting their website.

Photo Credit: Getty / Christie Goodwin