The bestselling country music outfit The Dixie Chicks will move forward as just The Chicks when they release their new album next month, they said Thursday, dropping “Dixie,” a nostalgic term for the American South from the Civil War-era, from their name as the U.S. faces a reckoning with its racist past.
The Chicks rolled out new social media handles, a new website address and a video previewing a new song, “March March,” set to images of protesters, from current-day demonstrators to historical photographs from the Civil Rights Movement of the sixties, on Thursday.
The word “Dixie” is believed to be derived from the Mason-Dixon Line, informally known as the border between free and slave-holding states after the Missouri Compromise, and is commonly used to describe the Civil War-era South.
The term was popularized by a 1859 song titled “Dixie,” written by Daniel Decatur Emmett who founded one of the first blackface minstrel troupes, and was adopted as an unofficial anthem of the Confederacy.
“We want to meet this moment,” reads the statement emblazoned on The Chick’s new website.
Fellow country music group Lady A also changed its name nearly two weeks ago, shortening it from Lady Antebellum to distance itself from slavery and the Civil War.
The Chicks are the most successful artists to date to have changed their name, having sold 33 million albums and taken home 13 Grammys.
The Texas-based, all-female group is no stranger to speaking out, having nearly lost their country music career after criticizing President George W. Bush in the run up to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
In 2003, lead singer Natalie Maines told a London crowd the group was “ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas,” referring to George W. Bush on the eve of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. While the London crowd cheered, back home, country radio stations banned their music from being played, and the group received death threats. Their 2006 album Taking the Long Way won five Grammys, but Maines said in a 2016 interview with Rolling Stone that she thought the group may never recover the mainstream country success they once had. “I feel like we are tainted,” she said. “I don’t know if we put a [U.S.] tour up, if people would come.” Over the past few years, The Chicks have reemerged in the mainstream. The Chicks performed with Beyoncé at the 2016 CMT Awards in Nashville, and Taylor Swift collaborated with the group on a track featured on her 2019 Lover album. The Chick’s first album in 14 years, Gaslighter, will be released in July.