Natalie Louise Maines (born October 14, 1974) is an American singer-songwriter and activist who achieved success as the lead vocalist for the female country band the Dixie Chicks. Born in Lubbock, Texas, Maines considers herself a rebel who "loved not thinking in the way I knew the majority of people thought."
In 1995, after leaving Berklee College of Music, Maines was recruited by the Dixie Chicks to replace their lead singer, Laura Lynch. With Maines as lead vocalist, the band earned 10 Country Music Association Awards and 13 Grammy Awards for their work between 1998 and 2007.
Maines released her solo album, Mother, on May 7, 2013.
Maines was born in Lubbock, Texas, to country musician and producer Lloyd Maines and his wife Tina May Maines. She attended Williams Elementary School in Lubbock where her second grade teacher recalls being told by Maines during a math lesson, "Teacher, I don't need to learn this stuff—I'm gonna be a star." Maines was a cheerleader while attending O. L. Slaton Junior High School, and graduated in 1992 from Lubbock High School where she had participated in the school choir. Maines has described growing up in conservative Texas, saying "I always rebelled against that. My parents sent me and my sister to public minority schools so I always felt like a hippie and a rebel. ... As a teenager I always loved not thinking in the way I knew the majority of people thought. I always stood up for minorities. ... I've always stood up for homosexuals. I just always had these really strong convictions about doing so."
Following the completion of high school, Maines attended several colleges. She spent two semesters pursuing an undeclared major at West Texas A&M where her studies focused heavily on radio, then a year and a half at South Plains College. One of Maines's instructors at South Plains, and a former member of The Maines Brothers Band, Cary Banks, recalled "She was mostly into rock'n'roll, rhythm and blues ... alternative rock." When Banks encountered Maines on campus, he said that she usually needed to vent a little steam. "She would get into a lot of political arguments" at the predominantly Republican school, and was a fan of Texas Governor Ann Richards. "She's always been opinionated and hardheaded like her dad." In December 1994, Maines auditioned for and received a full vocal scholarship to Berklee College of Music. She pursued the diploma program at Berklee but dropped out before the completion of her studies. Even though Maines is from Lubbock, home of Texas Tech University, she attended only one class at the school, a 1995 summer course in "Introductory Wildlife".
Maines's first commercially released work was background vocals on Pat Green's debut album, Dancehall Dreamer, produced by her father Lloyd Maines and released in 1995. At the end of 1995, at age 21, Maines joined the all-female country music band, the Dixie Chicks, which had been performing since 1989, but which had been unsuccessful in gaining more than local attention. Maines replaced founding lead singer Laura Lynch. She plays guitar and bass in concert in the band.
Maines co-wrote four tracks for the Dixie Chicks' first three albums, including the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks chart number one hit "Without You" on Fly. Maines was a primary songwriter on all 14 tracks of the band's 2006 album Taking the Long Way which peaked on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 1. Taking the Long Way has the Billboard Hot 100 single "Not Ready to Make Nice", (Maines, Strayer, Erwin, Wilson) hitting No. 4 and for which the band won the songwriting Grammy Award, for Song of the Year. Maines considers the songwriting she did for Taking the Long Way "pure therapy" after the controversy that ensued over a comment Maines made from the stage in London that criticized U.S. President George W. Bush. "Everything felt more personal this time", Maines said about the album, "there's just more maturity, depth, intelligence. ... [These songs] feel more grown-up."
Maines collaborates with other musical artists, both as a member of the Dixie Chicks and an individual singer. The Dixie Chicks first worked with Sheryl Crow in 1999 while performing for the concert tour Lilith Fair. Since then, the Dixie Chicks have worked with Crow on her Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live from Central Park album, a Crow remixed version of "Landslide" performed by the Chicks, and the Dixie Chicks' song "Favorite Year" from Taking the Long Way. Maines has performed with artists including Pat Green, Charlie Robison, Yellowcard, Stevie Nicks, Patty Griffin, Neil Diamond, Eddie Vedder, Pete Yorn and Ben Harper.
On May 7, 2013, Maines released a solo album entitled Mother. This was Maines's first album since the Dixie Chicks hiatus started in 2007. The album was co-produced by Ben Harper. The album contains Maines's interpretation of several cover songs, including Pink Floyd's "Mother", Eddie Vedder's "Without You", and Jeff Buckley's "Lover, You Should've Come Over". She also sings about motherhood, feminism, and painful relationships.
Maines has participated in various fundraising and awareness events. They include:
In 1997, Maines married her South Plains College boyfriend, bassist Michael Tarabay, and the couple moved to Nashville, Tennessee. Almost two years after they married, they filed for divorce, citing irreconcilable differences.
Maines met actor Adrian Pasdar in May 1999 at the wedding of bandmate Emily Erwin to Charlie Robison. Maines and Pasdar married on June 24, 2000, at A Little White Wedding Chapel in Las Vegas. They have two sons, Jackson Slade Pasdar (Slade) (born March 15, 2001) and Beckett Finn Pasdar (born July 14, 2004). She has referred to herself as "Natalie Pasdar". The family has homes in Los Angeles, Austin, and New York City. In July 2017, Maines filed for divorce from Pasdar, citing irreconcilable differences.
While lead singer for the Dixie Chicks, Maines has encountered several situations of a controversial nature. In August 2002, Maines criticized fellow country musician Toby Keith's song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue". In March 2003, Maines commented that the Dixie Chicks were "ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas."
Maines had a public feud with fellow country music star Toby Keith over the 2002 chart-topping country hit "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue", as well as a comment Maines made about U.S. President George W. Bush during a March 2003 Dixie Chicks concert in London.
Maines publicly criticized Keith's song "Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue" by saying, "I hate it. It's ignorant, and it makes country music sound ignorant. It targets an entire culture—and not just the bad people who did bad things. You've got to have some tact. Anybody can write, 'We'll put a boot in your ass.'" Keith responded by belittling Maines's songwriting skills with, "I'll bury her. She has never written anything that has been a hit" and, "That's what I do—I write songs." Keith further stated, "she said anyone can write 'We'll put a boot in your ass', but, you know ... she didn't."
After Maines commented at a March 2003 Dixie Chicks concert at the Shepherd's Bush Empire theatre in London that the Chicks didn't want the Iraq War and were "ashamed" President Bush "was from Texas", Keith's 2003 "Shock'n Y'all" tour began displaying a backdrop showing a doctored photo of Maines with Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein. Shortly thereafter, on May 21, 2003, Maines wore a T-shirt with the letters "F.U.T.K." written on the front while performing for the Academy of Country Music Awards broadcast. The Dixie Chicks website stated that the letters stood for "Freedom, United, Together in Kindness." Some saw it as a veiled insult directed at Keith.
In August 2003, Keith publicly declared that he was done feuding with Maines, explaining, "You know, a best friend of mine ... lost a two-year-old daughter to cancer. ... [Recently] I saw ... a picture of me and Natalie and it said, 'Fight to the Death' or something. It seemed so insignificant. I said, 'Enough is enough.' ... People try to make everything black and white. I didn't start this battle. They started it with me; they came out and just tore me up. One thing I've never, ever done, out of jealousy or anything else, is to bash another artist and their artistic license."
In the 2006 documentary Dixie Chicks: Shut Up and Sing, backstage footage prior to her appearance wearing the F.U.T.K. shirt recorded the conversation between Maines and Simon Renshaw and confirmed that the original intent of the shirt was, in fact, a shot at Keith in response to his criticism of her: the letters stood for "Fuck You Toby Keith". As of January 2007, Keith continues to refuse to say Maines's name and argues that the doctored photo was intended to express his feeling that Maines's criticism was tyrannical and a dictator-like attempt to squelch Keith's free speech.
On the eve of the Iraq invasion, while in concert in London for the 2003 Top of the World Tour, Maines commented that the Dixie Chicks were "ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." Negative public reaction in the United States to this comment resulted in boycotts by country music radio stations and death threats.
During the lead-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, the Dixie Chicks performed on March 10, 2003, at Shepherd's Bush Empire theatre in London, the first concert stop on their Top of the World Tour. Prior to performing their song "Travelin' Soldier", the band gave an introductory monologue during which 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.
A review of the concert published in The Guardian abbreviated Maines's comment to read, "Just so you know ... we're ashamed the President of the United States is from Texas." This abbreviated statement became widely circulated by the media.
Maines's comment, as abbreviated, provoked controversy and anger from some country music fans, and the Dixie Chicks were subsequently denounced by Bush supporters. Country music radio stations boycotted Dixie Chicks music. Scattered protests at which people destroyed Dixie Chicks' CDs occurred. Concerns arose that the Dixie Chicks impending US leg of the Top of the World Tour, slated to start May 1 in South Carolina, would see a lack of fans.
On March 12, the Dixie Chicks website posted a statement that read, "We've been overseas for several weeks and have been reading and following the news accounts of our government's position. The anti-American sentiment that has unfolded here is astounding." Maines added to the statement,
I feel the president is ignoring the opinions of many in the U.S. and alienating the rest of the world. ... My comments were made in frustration and one of the privileges of being an American is you are free to voice your own point of view. ... While we support our troops, there is nothing more frightening than the notion of going to war with Iraq and the prospect of all the innocent lives that will be lost.
A further statement was released on March 14: "As a concerned American citizen, I apologize to President Bush because my remark was disrespectful. I feel that whoever holds that office should be treated with the utmost respect." Maines continued by expressing her discontent regarding the impending war,
We are currently in Europe and witnessing a huge anti-American sentiment as a result of the perceived rush to war. While war may remain a viable option, as a mother, I just want to see every possible alternative exhausted before children and American soldiers' lives are lost. I love my country. I am a proud American
At the first US concert after Maines's comment, she is quoted as saying from the stage, "They told me that you may not come, but I knew you'd come because we have the greatest fans in the whole wide world." Despite fan turnout at concerts, the Dixie Chicks began receiving death threats as circulation of the comment increased. Subsequently, security was heightened at all concert venues and metal detectors were installed where possible. A death threat directed at Maines was received prior to the Chicks' concert of July 6, 2003, in Dallas, Texas. Maines described the threat as "scary because ... it wasn't just somebody wanting to write a hate letter. ... It was somebody who obviously thought they had a plan." Security was heightened for the trip to and from the concert venue as well as at the arena.
On May 21, 2006, while promoting the release of the album Taking the Long Way, Maines recanted her 2003 apology to President Bush, saying, "I don't feel that way anymore. I don't feel he is owed any respect whatsoever. ... If people are going to ask me to apologize based on who I am ... I don't know what to do about that. I can't change who I am."
Maines says she is not looking for more battles but that "The Incident", as it is referred to by the Chicks, reminded her of how she "felt in high school: to be angry, to be sure that you're right and that the things you do matter. You don't realize that you're not feeling those feelings until you do. And then you realize how much more interesting life is."
Two 2006 documentaries, Protesting the Dixie Chicks and Shut Up And Sing, deal with the controversy surrounding Maines's comment and the ensuing fallout. The Dixie Chicks continue to discuss the matter. In an interview with The Daily Telegraph on June 15, 2006, regarding the fallout from her comment, Maines again stirred up controversy by stating
The entire country may disagree with me, but I don't understand the necessity for patriotism; Why do you have to be a patriot? About what? This land is our land? Why? You can like where you live and like your life, but as for loving the whole country ... I don't see why people care about patriotism.
In 2007, the Dixie Chicks won three Grammys for "Not Ready to Make Nice" and two Grammys for Taking the Long Way, receiving all five Grammys for which they were nominated. This was seen by some as vindication for the Dixie Chicks, who were shunned by country radio programmers after Maines's remarks about President Bush. As the Dixie Chicks accepted the album of the year award, Maines said, "I think people are using their freedom of speech with all these awards. We get the message."
Maines and the other Dixie Chicks participated in a rally in Little Rock, Arkansas, in late 2007, in support of the West Memphis Three, three imprisoned men convicted of the 1993 murder of three young boys in West Memphis, Arkansas. At the rally, Maines made statements claiming new DNA evidence implicated Terry Hobbs, stepfather of one of the slain boys, and also posted a note about the presumed new evidence on the Dixie Chicks' website. Hobbs responded by filing a lawsuit claiming compensatory and punitive damages for "loss of income, injury to his reputation and emotional distress." The suit was dismissed, however, in December 2009. On August 19, 2011, Maines joined with Pearl Jam frontman Eddie Vedder in Jonesboro, Arkansas, supporting the release of the West Memphis Three.
|Title||Details||Peak chart positions|
|"—" denotes releases that did not chart|
|"White Women's Clothes"||1994||none||Charlie Goodnight: His Life In Poetry And Song|
|"Dancehall Dreamer"||1995||Pat Green||Dancehall Dreamer|
|"Snowing on Raton"||1997||George's Bar|
|"The Wedding Song"||2001||Charlie Robison||Step Right Up|
|"Too Far From Texas"||Stevie Nicks||Trouble in Shangri-La|
|"Abilene"||2002||Sheryl Crow||C'mon C'mon|
|"El Cerrito Place"||2004||Charlie Robison||Good Times|
|"Mary"||2005||Patty Griffin||Songs for Tsunami Relief: Austin to South Asia|
|"How I Go"||2006||Yellowcard||Lights and Sounds|
|"The Man"||Pete Yorn||Nightcrawler|
|"Don't Mean Nothing"||Westerns EP|
|"Another Day (That Time Forgot)"||2008||Neil Diamond||Home Before Dark|
|"God Only Knows"||2011||none||Big Love|
|"Golden State (Live)"||2012||Eddie Vedder||Golden State (Live)|
|"Mother"||2013||none||West of Memphis: Voices for Justice|
|"Love Without Fear"||2014||Dan Wilson||Love Without Fear|
|"The Wayfaring Stranger"||2015||Robert Earl Keen||Happy Prisoner: The Bluegrass Sessions|
|"Who I Want You To Love"||Bleachers||Terrible Thrills, Vol. 2|
Maines is a TM-er, it turns out. Eighteen years ago, she told the crowd, she and fiddler Martie Maguire went to learn TM together
|Wikinews has related news: Dixie Chicks show documentary at TIFF|