Over Dixie Chicks
Few of the millions and millions of people who bought the Dixie Chicks' major label debut, Wide Open Spaces, knew that the band had already been together for almost a decade, playing the folk and bluegrass circuit. The group was started by champion fiddle player Martie Seidel and her banjo-playing sister Emily Irwin. They went through a succession of lead singers before settling on Natalie Maines in the late-1990s. Maines' country pedigree is impressive, beginning with her father Lloyd Maines, a legendary pedal steel guitarist and studio luminary who has produced and played with Uncle Tupelo, Richard Buckner and Joe Ely, among others. With Maines in place, the Chicks dropped some of their bluegrass trappings in favor of a more conventional New Country sound. The fine-tuning paid off. Wide Open Spaces rocketed to the top of the charts, as did its follow-up Fly. But 2002's aptly titled Home found the girls returning to their bluegrass roots (despite the pop-friendly cover of Stevie Nicks' "Landslide"), which was a well-timed choice considering that by then, country music fans were caught up in old-timey fever thanks to the O Brother, Where Art Thou phenomenon. Top of the World Tour: Live was released in November of 2003, perfectly capturing the unstoppable energy and undying love for country music the Dixie Chicks exude on the live stage. Unfortunately, it was overshadowed and even boycotted by many media outlets after Maines test-drove the First Amendment on a London stage when she stated: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Following the short-lived Dixie Chicks boycott, the band released "I Hope" in 2005, a hit single recorded to garner charity funds for victims of Hurricane Katrina. Their seventh studio album, Taking the Long Way, was released in late May of 2006.