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No, I’m not talking about my wife.

What I’m referring to is the statement made by Natalie Maines in the spring of 2003 at Shepherd’s Bush Empire theatre in London, the first concert stop on the Dixie Chicks’ Top of the World Tour. Before they sang Travelin’ Soldier, Maines said:

Just so you know, we’re on the good side with y’all. We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas.

Maines was subsequently shunned in country radio, labeled as anti-patriotic, and saw her career (and the careers of her fellow Dixie Chicks) fade away. The statement didn’t kill their careers immediately, but it emblazoned a label on Maines and the Dixie Chicks nonetheless. A label they were unable to remove.

Some could argue that had they backtracked on the statement that things may have turned out different. But if that was how Maines and her fellow Chicks felt, I credit them for sticking to their words. Though I disagreed with them at the time, and still do, I appreciate the fact that even in the face of overwhelming criticism, they held fast to their beliefs.

However, I can’t help but wonder “what if?”

What if Maines hadn’t said it? What if she had retracted it? What if something else had happened to take the heat off for a while until the wounds healed?

How big would the Dixie Chicks be today?

At their peak, Maines, Martie Maguire, and Emily Robison were on top of country music. Even after the political controversy died down the group nabbed five Grammy awards in 2007, winning in every category for which they were nominated.

But what now?

With no album release since 2006 (the same album that swept the Grammy’s), the group is all but gone from the country music scene, and that’s a shame.

Had things turned out differently for the Chicks, they would likely still be headlining tours and would have gone down as the greatest female trio or group in country music history. But we will never know.

Are there any “what if’s” that you often wonder about?

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