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The Dixie Chicks

The Dixie Chicks

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Three years ago the country music industry pitched a hissy fit when Dixie Chicks lead singer Natalie Maines said, "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas." The Chicks didn't just get blackballed, they got death threats. Now they're back with a rocking new album of self-penned songs, Taking the Long Way, and a fierce first single, "Not Ready to Make Nice." We spoke to Maines and Robison, and just so you know, we're proud they're from Texas.

You're really breaking the genre mold for country music. "Not Ready to Make Nice" could be a gay anthem. Robison: Yeah, I think there's a certain defiance to our music. These days--correct me if I'm wrong--you almost have to be defiant in the gay and lesbian community just to stand your ground.

That part in "Not Ready To Make Nice"--where someone writes you a letter saying "Shut up and sing / Or [your] life will be over"--gives me the chills. Maines: People get mad that we're saying that, but every single word is true. Because of "the incident," as we like to call it, we really felt we had something to say. It made us mature, made us grow as women and people, and inspired us for this record. Rick Rubin, our producer, had seen us at the beginning of our career and thought we were really good but that no one took us seriously. Emily said the other day, "I don't know if it was the glitter or what." [Laughs]

I think you've gotten a whole new crowd of gay fans because you were so outspoken. Maines: We've wiped the slate clean as to whom we think our fans are, but we do think we have more liberals and more gay men behind us. We have a gay hairdresser and gay makeup artist who are with us every single day, so they fill us in.

You must see a lot of lesbians at your shows. Robison: They're usually on Martie's side. [Laughs] We always tease her that she gets all the lesbians.

You all had babies since the last album--what are you going to teach your children about tolerance and about speaking out? Maines: When all this was happening, I had a 2-year-old, and Emily had a baby, and that was one of the things that crossed my mind. I know a lot of people would have just said "Sorry." But I had to think about when my son gets old enough to ask me what they were talking about. I could never say, "Oh, I said this thing about the president because I didn't agree with us going to war, but then I took it back." I wanted him to know that I stood up for what I know to be right.

How long do we have to wait for the Dixie Chicks' Chicks? Robison: The oldest is just 5. We have hunches about a few of them, but it's hard to tell.

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff & Wayne Brady

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