“I’M READY TO MAKE NICE!” Natalie Maines sarcastically declared when the Dixie Chicks accepted the album of the year Grammy Award in 2007 for Taking the Long Way.
The win capped a night in which the country crossover hitmakers – frontwoman Maines, then 32, and sisters Martie Maguire, 37, and Emily Strayer, 34 – also took home record and song of the year for the single “Not Ready to Make Nice” (a hat trick last scored by Eric Clapton in 1993).
The triumph was also a vindication of sorts for the trio, which had been absent from the charts since 2003, in large part due to fallout over a comment Maines made that March at a London concert. Criticizing George W. Bush’s decision to invade Iraq, she famously told the crowd, “We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas.”
The backlash was swift. The group all but vanished from country radio, which had steadily supported it with 14 top 10s on Billboard‘s Hot Country Songs chart. Its cover of Fleetwood Mac‘s “Landslide” plummeted from No. 10 to No. 43 on the Billboard Hot 100 dated April 5, 2003.
The trio channeled the uproar into the defiant “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which included the lyrics, “I’m not ready to back down / I’m still mad as hell.” After its Grammy haul, the song soared back to a record-tying No. 4 re-entry on the Hot 100 on March 3, 2007, the band’s highest career showing.
The Chicks have not released new material since, but they headlined the 15th-highest-grossing tour of 2016 ($50.7 million, according to Billboard Boxscore). The shows were not without political commentary; a video montage depicted an image of Donald Trump with devil horns.
In November 2016, the group made headlines again after performing “Daddy Lessons” with Beyoncé at the Country Music Association Awards. Critics charged that, given Maines’ Bush comment and Beyoncé‘s activism regarding police reform, neither act belonged on the telecast. Maines responded by tweeting a line from Beyoncé’s “Formation”: “You know you dat Bitch when you cause all this conversation.”