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Dixie Chicks Were ‘Shocked’ at How the Country Music Community Turned on Them in 2003

Dixie Chicks
Brad Barket, Getty Images

With the release of their newest single, “Gaslighter,” an the announcement of a forthcoming album, the Dixie Chicks have officially returned to music. However, the trio says that their relationship to the country music community will never return to the way it was at the outset of their career, according to a new interview with Allure.

Exactly 17 years ago, on March 10, 2003, Chicks frontwoman Natalie Maines addressed a crowd of London fans, saying that the band opposed the U.S.’ invasion of Iraq and adding that they were “ashamed” that the President of the United States — George. W. Bush — was from their home state of Texas.

An extraordinary backlash ensued, with the band getting ousted from country radio and a legion of livid country listeners burning their CDs. The controversy brought the Chicks’ career to a halt, and their 2006 album, Taking the Long Way Home, would be their last — until now.

“I do not like when artists get on their soapbox — it’s not what people are there for,” Maines explains to Allure during a conversation surrounding their new project, Gaslighter. “They’re there to listen to your music…[but] The politics of this band is inseparable from the music.”

The Chicks knew, right after Maines made her now-infamous comments, that the country community would have some objections to the sentiment. In fact, bandmate Emily Robison admits that she was a little mad at Maines “for five seconds in the elevator” after that show.

But they never could have expected the totality of the rejection they’d be coming back to stateside, the venom with which their fans and fellow artists would close them out of the industry. Maines says that what shocked her most of all was the sentiment of betrayal, that their fans felt that the Chicks had pretended to be three people that, ultimately, they were not.

“I was shocked that people thought that we were different than what we were. I always felt like we were so genuine,” Maines admits.

Now, the band agrees, they’ll never truly be a part of the country community again.

“No, absolutely not,” Maines adds. “When we started doing this music, I liked the people in our industry. We always waved that country flag when people would say it wasn’t cool. And then to see how quickly the industry turned on us…”

Still, the band adds, it’s difficult to regret an event that has shaped so much of their career.  “I felt the most pride in our last album — maybe it was worth the controversy,” Maines reflects. “It was so personal and so honest; this album even more so.”

WATCH: The Secret History of the Dixie Chicks’ Country Radio Ban

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