The Chicks’ Natalie Maines knows what they say behind her back.
“We get labeled as the first people of cancel culture,” the 47-year-old lead singer of the Grammy Award-winning threesome proclaims during a recent Zoom interview. “Honestly, I don’t feel like we were canceled … but maybe I’m wrong.”
When: 7:30 p.m. June 15
Where: Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre, 19100 S. Ridgeland Ave., Tinley Park
Tickets: $24 - $210
The platinum-selling country trio made up of Maines, fiddler Martie Maguire and banjoist Emily Strayer experienced their share of backlash back in 2003 when Maines voiced her disapproval of the Iraq war and then-President George W. Bush. But despite the efforts of many to wipe them off the face of country music forevermore, The Chicks are still here.
And yes, they are still speaking their mind.
“It’s interesting that people aren’t really catching on to the ridiculousness of [cancel culture],” says Maines. “I mean, I’m all for some people getting canceled. If you have raped or molested a lot of females, then I’m all for you being canceled.”
“If it’s someone saying they hate a politician or something, it’s just in the parlance of an opinion,” Strayer quickly adds, during the same interview. “To me, that’s different than like, we found 12 racist tweets from five years ago before you got famous. I mean, people have to be accountable. But at the same time, it’s the people with the pitchforks and the ‘I’m going to go get ’em’ attitude that is really upsetting.”
Nevertheless, when one’s inner voice merges with a slew of outside voices, it can bring with it necessary change. Take for example the decision of The Chicks — who first hit it big back in 1998 with their debut album “Wide Open Spaces” — to take the word “Dixie” out of their name in 2020.
“We had been thinking about it for a while,” says Maguire of the name change that took place amid the protests following the death of George Floyd. “Even though we knew our fans knew us and knew our hearts and knew that there was no bad intention, we felt like we would make a strong statement as a band [by making the name change]. And we just couldn’t do it fast enough.”
Heading to Chicago on June 15 as part of the opening weekend of their much-anticipated tour, The Chicks certainly seem as carefree and content as they have ever been. Still, their feelings about the trials and tribulations of the world around them always seem to find their way to the microphones on the stage in front of them.
“I think people associate us with speaking our minds and getting a little political and voicing things that we are passionate about,” says Maines, who now makes a home in Los Angeles. “So, we definitely have some of that in the show.”
Maines mentions that the stage visuals for The Chicks’ activist anthem “March March” has had to be revised several times in recent months.
“There is always more to add [to the projections] unfortunately,” Maines says quietly of one of the most powerful moments of the show for the anthem off their 2020 album “Gaslighter.” The shootings at Robb Elementary School in Texas and the Tops supermarket in New York just days before this interview are called to mind.
“People are there [come to our shows] to obviously have a great time, but it’s also a respite from a lot of things that are going on in the country,” Maines continues. “You ... have to give people hope in a way. And I hope our concerts do that.”
Mixing feel-good classics such as “Wide Open Spaces” and “Cowboy Take Me Away” with thought-provoking odes such as “Landslide” and “Travelin’ Soldier” alongside outspoken jaunts such as “Not Ready To Make Nice” and “Goodbye Earl,” The Chicks are looking to give their fans a good show, and give themselves some much-needed family time, as Maines’ 21-year-old son Slade will be on hand playing guitar, synthesizer and keyboard mandolin.