NASHVILLE, Tenn. – When The Chicks decided to drop the word “Dixie” from the band's name, it was the culmination of years of internal discussions and attempts to distance itself from negative connotations with the word.
The 13-time Grammy-winning trio made the switch last month, just weeks before the release of their first new music in 14 years.
The band was formed in Dallas, Texas, in the late 1980s by sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Strayer with Laura Lynch and Robin Lynn Macy as a bluegrass band.
“We were totally working the kitschy cowgirl clothes and everything at that stage in our career, big hair, you know,” said Strayer. “And so we had like cowboy hats on playing down on street corners.”
But they started getting requests for bookings and they needed a name. “That Little Feat song, ‘ Dixie Chicken,’ came on the radio. And so we were the Dixie Chickens for like maybe six months,” Strayer said.
Maguire, though, hated being called a chicken, Strayer said. So it got shortened to just chicks.
They released three independent albums before Natalie Maines became the lead singer. The band signed a seven-record deal with Sony and again, they questioned whether to continue as The Dixie Chicks. Strayer even wondered if the word “chicks” was too derogatory to women, but ultimately felt it was empowering.
“When we signed to Sony, we thought about it again and (the label was) like, ‘No, it’s alliterative, it’s catchy, it’s you. There’s history here,’" said Strayer.