There have been a lot of Big Moments in the life of the band formerly known as the Dixie Chicks. It happens when you make music for three decades. There was that one moment in 2003, obviously. But so much of what’s gone into The Chicks of right now has been building since the band’s initial start in 1989. So while that one controversy led to all kinds of conversations, it hardly defines the band’s seasoned and prolific history.
Because along with those more talked-about moments, there have also been so many songs written, chart records broken, awards won, breaks taken, families raised, and more. And all of that has played a part in what led them here, to the release of Gaslighter, due out on Friday (July 17).
So let’s do a #ThrowbackThursday and take a good, long look back at the full 30-year history of this legendary trio.
1989: Four women came together in Texas to form The Dixie Chicks: Erwin sisters Martie (Maguire) and Emily (Strayer), plus Laura Lynch on upright bass and middle school math teacher Robin Lynn Macy on guitar. The group was originally known more for bluegrass and Western swing music than mainstream country.
1990: The band releases what would be their first independent studio album, Thank Heavens for Dale Evans.
1992: The trio — because Macy had retired from the band — release their second independent album, Little Ol’ Cowgirl.
1993: The group releases what would become their last independent album, Shouldn’t a Told You That, after which the band went through some shuffling of who would stay and who would go.
1995: After frontwoman Lynch left the band, Natalie Maines joined the group when her father Lloyd — the band’s steel guitar player — had recommended her to the Erwin sisters.
1998: The Dixie Chicks’ very first major-label album Wide Open Spaces comes out, and almost immediately, their debut single “I Can Love You Better” was their first to make it into the top ten on the country charts.
1998: For that first studio album, the trio leaned on outside writers for all the songs but one. Strayer and her sister Maguire write “You Were Mine,” a bittersweet breakup ballad.
1999: The band releases their follow-up Fly, and the album had Maines, Maguire and Strayer credited with co-writing five of the best tracks: “Ready to Run,” “Cowboy Take Me Away,” “Don’t Waste Your Heart,” “Sin Wagon” and “Without You.”
2002: The band releases Home, which includes four songs the women had a hand in writing: “White Trash Wedding,” “I Believe in Love,” “Tortured, Tangled Hearts,” and “Lil’ Jack Slade.”
2003: At a concert at London’s Shepherds Bush Empire theater, Maines casually mentioned to the audience that they were ashamed that President George W. Bush was from their home state of Texas.
2006: After a few years off after that moment, the band’s Taking the Long Way was released. For the first time, the album was written completely by Maines, Maguire, Strayer and friends: “The Long Way Around,” “Not Ready to Make Nice,” “Everybody Knows,” “Bitter End,” “Lullaby,” “Lubbock or Leave It,” “Silent House,” “Favorite Year,” “Voice Inside My Head,” “I Like It,” “Baby Hold On,” “So Hard,” and “I Hope.” At the time, Strayer told me, “Martie, Nat and I tended to go back to the same country and bluegrass patterns, so we needed other writers to help us meld that with the new sounds.”
2006: The trio takes off on their Accidents & Accusations Tour, and the Shut Up and Sing documentary detailing the toll the 2003 controversy took on the band hits theaters and receives multiple film nominations.
2006: Maines, Maguire and Strayer pose nude for an Entertainment Weekly cover, with their bodies strategically covered in harsh words.
2006: Their single “Not Ready to Make Nice” celebrates the band’s unwillingness to ignore the backlash they endured in 2003, and it becomes their biggest hit to date.
2007: The Chicks show up at the Grammys and go home with five trophies for album of the year, best country album, record of the year, song of the year and best country performance by a duo or group with vocal.
2010: While the band is taking a break to spend time with their families, Maguire and Robison release new music without Maines as the Court Yard Hounds and release a self-titled debut album.
2013: The Court Yard Hounds release a second album, Amelita.
2017: The trio takes to Twitter to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their “I Can Love You Better” video.
— CMT (@CMT) October 16, 2017
2017: They share the official and original inspiration for their band name, roughly three years before they would change it.
Fun Fact: the Dixie Chicks name came to be because of this song! https://t.co/7WMfyOKuzb
— The Chicks (@thechicks) June 7, 2017
2017: Throughout 2016 and 2017, The Chicks hit the road for their MMXVI/MMXVII Tour and run the numbers on the tour’s 367 days, 82 shows, 12 countries, and three continents for one million fans.
TONIGHT is the last show of the MMXVI/MMXVII Tour!
THANK YOU to nearly 1 million fans who came! pic.twitter.com/Jfn9fojDs0
— The Chicks (@thechicks) April 18, 2017
2019: The trio collaborates with Taylor Swift on her “Soon You’ll Get Better.”
— The Chicks (@thechicks) August 23, 2019
January 2020: The band starts retweeting female country artists’ posts about equal play on country radio.
AND LINDSAY AND ASHLEY AND WHOEVER ELSE IM FORGETTING BECAUSE I NEED MORE COFFEE TO DEAL https://t.co/G47T7ZAf0v
— Kelsea Ballerini (@KelseaBallerini) January 16, 2020
2020: The group announces an upcoming album called Gaslighter, featuring artwork of a trio of Irish step dancers, inspired by Maines’ cousin.
2020: The band removes the Dixie from their name, opting to go by simply The Chicks (reportedly to distance themselves from a name with ties to the Confederate-era South). On the day of the switch, their website said, “We want to meet this moment.”
2020: With the album release date a few weeks away, The Chicks go on a social media spree promoting their fan’s love for the title track and “March March.” The album features 11 songs — all but one track — written by Maines, Maguire and Strayer, including “Gaslighter,””Sleep at Night,” “Texas Man,””For Her,” “March March,” “My Best Friend’s Weddings,” “Tights On My Boat,” “Julianna Calm Down,” “Young Man,” “Hope It’s Something Good,” and “Set Me Free.”
July 17, 2020: Gaslighter is released, along with a brand new video for The Chicks’ “Sleep At Night,” which they shot in the Mojave Desert.