Facts about The Chicks
The Chicks Biography
The Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks) are an all-female trio whose 1998 album Wide Open Spaces made them, for a time, one of the top acts in country music.
The group was founded as a quartet in Dallas, Texas in 1989, with the Erwin sisters, Emily and Martie, joining Laura Lynch and Robin Macy. By 1995, Macy had quit and Lynch had been replaced, and The Dixie Chicks were a trio: fiddler Martie (Erwin) Maguire (b. October 12, 1969 in York, Pennsylvania), banjo picker Emily (Erwin) Strayer (b. August 16, 1972 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts) and singer Natalie Maines (b. October 14, 1974 in Lubbock, Texas).
The women made a name for themselves performing on street corners and in small venues in Dallas, releasing their own recordings and selling them locally. Their big-label debut in 1998 included the hit songs “Wide Open Spaces” and “There’s Your Trouble,” and the Dixie Chicks became stars. Their second album, Fly (1999), featured the darkly humorous single “Goodbye Earl” and set them off on a successful national tour. They continued their success with Home (2002, including the singles “Landslide” and “Travelin’ Soldier”) and became the top touring act in country music in 2003.
As the Dixie Chicks, they were also famous for their opposition to U.S. President George W. Bush‘s decision to invade Iraq in 2003. While on tour in London, England in March of that year, singer Maines told an audience, “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”
The comment irked Bush supporters in the U.S., many of whom formed the trio’s traditional fan base. It also sparked a temporary feud with Toby Keith, whose hit song “Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue (The Angry American)” offered a different political viewpoint. Anti-Chicks sentiment drew plenty of media attention, but the Dixie Chicks released Taking the Long Way in 2006 and proved their careers hadn’t suffered much. The album was a top-seller and earned the Chicks five Grammy awards, including the awards for best record, best album and best song (“Not Ready to Play Nice”).
From 2010 to 2016 the band took a semi-hiatus, with various members taking time off; at one point Robison and Maguire performed together under the name Court Yard Hounds. In 2016 the band reunited for a world tour, and in 2020 they announced the release of their first album in 14 years, titled Gaslighter.
The band renamed itself as The Chicks in June of 2020, removing “Dixie” in the wake of renewed interest in the Black Lives Matter movement.
The political controversy stirred by their 2003 comments was covered in a 2006 documentary, Shut Up & Sing… Natalie Maines was married to actor Adrian Pasdar, one of the stars of the television series Heroes, from 1999 until their divorce in 2019. They have two sons: Jackson (b. 2001) and Beckett (b. 2004)… Martie Erwin was married to Gareth Maguire, a teacher from Northern Ireland, from 2001 until their divorce in 2013. They have three daughters: twins Eva and Kathleen (b. 2004) and Harper (b. 2008)… Emily Strayer was previously known as Emily Robison. She was married to country singer Charlie Robison from 1999 until their divorce in 2008. They have three children: Charles (b. 2002) and twins Julianna and Henry (b. 2005). She married Martin Strayer in 2013; they have a daughter, Violet (b. 2012).