DNC 2020: The Chicks sing national anthem, here's a look at old controversies and why they changed their name

The band has since 2000 been enmeshed in the Bush and Iraq War controversy, differences with Sony and American Red Cross. Further, their change in name has drawn a lot of attention to their past

                            DNC 2020: The Chicks sing national anthem, here's a look at old controversies and why they changed their name
The Chicks (Getty Images)

Country-pop music band The Chicks kicked off the last night of the Democratic Convention 2020 with a rendition of the national anthem. The country trio of Natalie Maines, Martie Erwin Maguire and Emily Strayer remotely sang on August 20 with a performance that stirred up patriotism and nationalistic fervor. The trio was soon lauded by fans who were deeply moved by the sentimental overtones in their music.

Fans took to the internet to write that the rendition gave them goosebumps and left many teary-eyed. Others thanked them and called them "true patriots" who sang a beautiful harmony. The Democratic Convention account tweeted, “@TheChicks singing the national anthem is everything we needed.#DemConvention.” 


A fan wrote, “What an amazing rendition of our National Anthem. Thank you Chicks! You brought tears of joy to my eyes. I've been a fan from the beginning & will stay a fan forever!" 


"Tears! True patriots & beautiful harmony, like all of us can join together harmoniously as a nation and save ourselves. #BidenHarrisToSaveAmerica"


"Thanks for the head to toe goosebumps and watery eyes ladies!!! That was absolutely beautiful."


Others wrote that the band has always stood up for the right causes and has the courage to speak. “[Love] (heart emoji) you for your courage to speak out then & now! Most beautiful & moving rendition of our national anthem."


However, the band has been embroiled in a range of controversies. Here's a look at their history. 

Bush and Iraq War controversy

The band, previously known as Dixie Chicks, had earlier sung the national anthem at the Super Bowl XXXVII in 2003. This was two months before they were infamously ostracized for criticizing the then-president George W Bush. The issue was that the band was critical of Bush's stand in Iraq’s invasion of 2003. Band member Maines was very vocal in flogging Bush by saying that she was "ashamed" and does not endorse the war with Iraq.

She told her audience in 2003, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas,” as reported in CBS News. After this, the band drew flak from country music fans forcing the group to release an official statement on their critique of the Iraq war and Bush. It read, "the anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding. While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost."

In a separate statement, Maines said, "I feel the president is ignoring the opinion of many in the US and alienating the rest of the world. My comments were made in frustration, and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view." However, enraged fans threatened to boycott the trio’s music.

The Dixie Chicks perform the National Anthem before the start of Super Bowl XXXVII between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders on January 26, 2003, at Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, California (Getty Images)

Losing partnership with American Red Cross

Following the Iraq- Bush controversy, the American Red Cross refused a $1 million promotional partnership to the band. The organization did not publicize it but it was revealed by The Chicks themselves in a May 2006 interview on ‘The Howard Stern Show’ on Sirius Satellite Radio. At that time, national Red Cross spokeswoman Julie Thurmond Whitmer said that the band would have made the donation "only if the American Red Cross would embrace the band’s summer tour."

She wrote, "The Dixie Chicks controversy made it impossible for the American Red Cross to associate itself with the band because such association would have violated two of the founding principles of the organization: impartiality and neutrality…"

Feud over recording with Sony in 2001-02

After the commercial success of their albums ‘Wide Open Spaces’ and ‘Fly’, the band got enmeshed in a dispute with their record label Sony. They alleged that Sony has used fraudulent accounting practices in over 30 cases and underpaid them at least $4 million (£2.7m) in royalties on their albums. As a result, Sony held out and the band walked away. Later Sony sued the group for failure to complete the contract. 

Musicians Martie Maguire, Natalie Maines and Emily Robison of the Dixie Chicks arrive at the David Lynch Foundation Gala Honoring Rick Rubin at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel on February 27, 2014, in Beverly Hills, California (Getty Images)

Dropping Dixie from band’s name

In 2020, the girl group known as Dixie Chicks dropped "Dixie" from their name announcing that they will now be known as just The Chicks heralding a change during the post-George Floyd protests. Following the violence over racism, the band re-evaluated its association with racist symbols, like the Confederate flag, sometimes called the rebel flag or the Dixie flag which made them change their mind.

"I think the sort of moment for me was when NASCAR banned the Dixie flag," said Maines. "It just struck me as, 'OK, we're doing this now.' No more overthinking. No more hesitation. Now is the time," said band member Strayer opting for a change in name, as reported in Hollywood Reporter.

The name change comes after fellow country group Lady Antebellum changed their name to Lady A, removing the reference to the pre-Civil War South.

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