Country band The Dixie Chicks drop 'dixie' from name to blank Civil War memory, happy fans say 'good riddance'
The word dixie refers to the South and comes from the Mason-Dixon line, bringing up Civil War memories
Grammy-winning country group The Dixie Chicks have dropped the word “dixie” from their name after more than 30 years. The group is now going by The Chicks.
On Thursday, June 25, the band revealed the change in the name with the branding for its new song ‘March March’. The band has also changed the cover of its comeback album ‘Gaslighter’ in keeping with this monumental change. The band’s social media pages and website (even the Wikipedia page) now refer to the trio as the Chicks.
Speaking to Pitchfork about the name change, The Chicks shared the following statement: “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 honored to co-exist together in the world with these exceptionally talented sisters. Chicks Rock!”
The band was referring to the New Zealand-based singing duo Judy and Sue Donaldson, who also performed under the same name, and were at the height of their fame in the 1960s.
But why the name change?
On June 17, an op-ed for Variety titled, ‘After Lady Antebellum, Is It Time for the Dixie Chicks to Rethink Their Name?’ questioned the country trio’s band name. On June 11, the country group Lady Antebellum rechristened itself to Lady A, acknowledging that “antebellum” was a racially charged term — it refers to the pre-Civil War era.
The term “Dixie”, too, has associations with the South, believed to be originally derived from the Mason-Dixon line. The Variety op-ed noted that “regardless of its origin, for many Black people, it conjures a time and a place of bondage. If a ‘Dixie’-loving Southerner today insists the word merely represents a deep appreciation of their homeland, they’re probably white.”
While The Chicks have not, unlike Lady A, given a reason for the change in the band’s iconic name, it is likely that it arrives as a result of the conversation around racism that has emerged across the US in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd.
The move received praise from fans on social media. While there was some criticism, especially from right-wing pundits, here and there, the response was hugely positive. A Twitter user noted, “Confederate references are being stripped away, from statues to schools to Splash Mountain to The Dixie Chicks. If that makes you mad, maybe it was a bad idea to attach your cultural identity to 150-year-old racist traitors who lasted 5 years before getting their a**es kicked?”
Another said, “I've loved The Chicks' music my entire life. As a Texan, I absolutely agreed with Natalie Maines when she criticized George W Bush. Good riddance to their former name, and [I'm] looking forward to seeing them for the sixth time when they next tour!”
In 2003, The Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines made a comment while performing at the Shepherd's Bush Empire theater in London, England. She said, “Just so you know, we're on the good side with y'all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we're ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.”
The comment resulted in a lot of backlashes not just from fans, but also from fellow artists like Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. Noting the present right-wing backlash on the renaming of the band, a Twitter user noted, “There’s something ironic about the right whining about ‘cancel culture’ in regards to the dixie chicks taking ‘dixie’ out of their name as if they didn’t literally burn their records and shun them from the country music world 20 years ago after Natalie Maines said she hated GWB.”