Cultural norms are shifting in America. This change is reaching into many different industries and taking many different forms. Recently, NASCAR banned the Confederate flag at its events. Many major American companies are coming out, making political statements and taking public stands on social issues. Now, an entertainment brand that is no stranger to controversy, has taken another public step.
The Grammy-winning country group, The Dixie Chicks, which includes members Natalie Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Strayer, has changed its name, dropping the “Dixie” to become, simply, The Chicks. As the announcement was made, the band’s fans saw their social media pages and accounts change, as well as the branding on the group’s website.
In making the announcement, The Chicks acknowledged that they are not the only group in the world going by this brand name: “A sincere and heartfelt thank you goes out to ‘The Chicks’ of New Zealand 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…”
Not afraid to court controversy, the band famously split their fan base when Maines publicly criticized then-President George W. Bush at a concert. Now, The Chicks may be looking at some more backlash, as they prepare to release their first album of new music in 14 years. That album reportedly contains a track titled “March March,” which includes imagery from recent BLM rallies and marches.
Not that The Chicks will likely be phased by any potential fallout from their overtly political art. After getting nearly canceled by country music for speaking negatively about President Bush, the band released the song, “Not Ready to Make Nice,” which led to massive haul at the next Grammy awards. And, overall, their political commentary has not hurt the band at all, as they remain the best-selling female group in America, having sold more than 33 million albums in the US alone.
And, while they might be the most prolific country band making a socially-motivated shift, they are not the only one. Popular country music group, Lady Antebellum, is now going by the name, Lady A, taking a stand against their former name’s association with slavery. In a statement announcing the change, Lady A said they “want to meet this moment…”
Fan reaction is likely to be mixed on these changes, so both groups need to be prepared with a strategy to speak to each of these audiences. They need to be clear and forthright about why they felt the change was necessary, and to make sure the fans who love their music will continue to have plenty of that to love.