Another Country Band Has Changed Its Name Due to Slavery Connotations
The women formerly known as the Dixie Chicks have shortened their name.
Earlier this month, the country trio that was once known as Lady Antebellum announced in a lengthy statement that they would be shortening their name to Lady A, citing the hurtful connotations of the word "antebellum" through its connection to slavery. In the wake of that announcement, many people brought up the Dixie Chicks as a group similarly named for a certain type of racially insensitive Southern nostalgia. While group members Natalie Maines, Emily Robison, and Martie Maguire did not respond right away to those criticisms, their official site and branding was altered on Thursday, rebranding the band as simply "The Chicks."
The word "dixie" is a nickname that originally referred to states below the Mason-Dixon line—states which composed the Confederacy. While it's broadened into a more general term, the history of the word can't be erased. "Antebellum," meanwhile, refers more to a time period: the South before the events of the Civil War, before the abolition of slavery. In their statement, the group now called Lady A said, "We are deeply sorry for the hurt this [name] has caused and for anyone who has felt unsafe, unseen or unvalued."
The Dixie Chicks are known for being outspoken about their beliefs to the point of alienating certain fans. The documentary film Shut Up and Sing documents the spiral that occurred after Maines criticized then-President George W. Bush during a concert, when country radio stations blacklisted the group and consumers burned their Dixie Chicks CDs. The band went on hiatus for several years; though they've toured and recorded since, the upcoming album Gaslighter will be their first full studio album since 2006.
For this reason, some long-time fans may have found it surprising that the musicians did not speak out right away after the Lady A news. But their updated website announces them as The Chicks, with the statement, "We want to meet this moment" directly underneath. The new song they released on Thursday, "March March," also refers to them by the shortened moniker. The song is undeniably political, covering a range of issues and including Maines singing the lyric, "Half of you love me, half already hate me."
When asked for comment on the change by the music site Pitchfork, a spokesperson for The Chicks provided the following:
"A sincere and heartfelt thank you goes out to 'The Chicks' of NZ for their gracious gesture in allowing us to share their name. We are honored to co-exist together in the world with these exceptionally talented sisters. Chicks Rock!"
There was further controversy for the band Lady A when a Black blues singer who's been performing for decades under that moniker expressed her frustration to Rolling Stone that they co-opted it. Soon after, the band and the singer met virtually and came to an agreement about sharing the name. The newly christened Chicks appear to have side-stepped that issue by reaching out in advance to the group they refer to in their statement. The Chicks is also the name of a New Zealand duo of singing sisters who rose to fame in the '60s. And for more on pop culture under fire, here are 10 Disney Classics That Have Been Called Out for Racism.