The country trio Dixie Chicks are now simply The Chicks, dropping a nickname for the Confederate-era South from their band name.
The stealthy switch saw the group amend their social media usernames and release a new song and accompanying video “March March” on Thursday.
The song’s lyrics reference current social unrest including anti-racism protests and police brutality, as well as fights to end gun violence, slow climate change and expand LGBTQ rights.
“We want to meet this moment,” the group wrote on its website, with no other explanation.
The move comes after another country group, Lady Antebellum, changed its name to Lady A to remove a slavery link.
The term “antebellum” refers to a time period before a war, and is widely associated with the pro-slavery American South in the pre-Civil War years.
That group faced backlash after it emerged that a black female blues singer in Seattle had been using the name Lady A for two decades.
In a statement to the music outlet Pitchfork, The Chicks said they had checked with a New Zealand duo already using the name.
“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!” the spokesperson told Pitchfork.
The Texas-based group formerly known as the Dixie Chicks soared to fame in the late 1990s, but essentially vanished from music’s main stage after lead singer Natalie Maines told a show in London she was “ashamed” that George W. Bush hailed from Texas — and that the band did “not want this war, this violence,” referring to the then-impending invasion of Iraq.
The comment went viral and many country radio stations quickly ditched their music — which included hits like “Wide Open Spaces,” “Goodbye Earl” and a popular cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide.”
Country is considered by many as US music’s most conservative genre. Many critics saw the trio’s ouster as a turning point that emphatically erased any edge it had left, with artists fearing getting “Dixie Chicked” if they voiced opinions.
But in March 2020 the group released a comeback single “Gaslighter” and said they would release their first new album since 2006, thought its May 1 issue date was postponed due to coronavirus.
The album is now expected to arrive July 17.