The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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War is over for Bush & may be for Chicks

Even as President George W. Bush told America last night that the major conflict in Iraq is over and rebuilding lay ahead, the Dixie Chicks were on stage in South Carolina searching for a similar message regarding their country music career.

The warm, loud cheers from fans in the 14,000-seat Bi-Lo arena, the first stop on a national tour, suggested that they may hear a message of renewal.

The reception was in sharp contrast to the reaction after lead singer Natalie Maines criticised the President on the eve of the war. On March 10, Maines was on a London stage when she told the crowd she was “embarrassed” that Bush was a fellow Texan. That off-hand remark touched off an unexpected firestorm.

In the following weeks there were anti-Chicks rallies, endless talk-show screeds, and ban of Chicks songs at some country radio stations. The Chicks, who have sold more albums than any female group in music history, saw their newest release, Home, plunge on the charts.

While Hollywood stars and rock bands have weighed in on Bush or the war with no major turbulence, the Chicks were caught in a hurricane. Lon Helton, country music editor for Radio & Records, a music trade publication, said the nature of the genre and its Heartland fan base have different expectations of their stars: “Country music is for the people who live in between the Hudson and the Hollywood sign and they have a different view.”

Maines has apologised for the wording of her comment but the issue continues to roil in Greenville, where the tour kickoff was scheduled and sold-out weeks before the London incident. The city is home to the archly conservative Bob Jones University and falls in line with this state’s stalwart support of Republicans. The State House of Representatives even passed a resolution demanding the musicians perform for troops as a gesture of apology.

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