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Natalie Maines, the controversial lead singer of The Dixie Chicks, is out with her first solo album. (AP Photo/file)

Controversial lead singer of The Dixie Chicks comes out with first solo album

The controversial lead singer of The Dixie Chicks is out with her first solo album, exactly ten years after alienating the country music world by slamming the president.

It's easy to forget how big The Dixie Chicks were. With over 30 million albums sold, they're the top-selling country group of the last 20 years. When singer Natalie Maines joined the group in 1998, The Dixie Chicks shot to stardom with their album, Wide Open Spaces, a record that sold more copies than all the other country groups that year combined.

But a lot of that came to a screeching halt in 2003, when Maines, at a cocnert in London, uttered these fateful words a few days before the U.S. invaded Iraq.

"We're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

The reaction in Europe was positive, but back in the states, Maines was vilified.

Their record sales plummeted and their concert tour dates were cut way back. Most of country music disowned them.

The Dixie Chicks came back strong with one last hurrah three years later with the pointed song, "Not Ready to Make Nice."

The song was ignored by country radio but thanks to the album's sweep of the top Grammy categories that year - best song, best record and best album - the album, called "Taking the Long Way," actually hit number one on the country charts.

But that was in 2007 and we haven't heard much from The Dixie Chicks since. Until now at least, with the release of a new solo album from Maines. And it doesn't sound much like the Dixie Chicks.

The title track, for instance, is a cover of a classic Pink Floyd song, "Mother."

Maines also does a recent Eddie Vedder tune, "Without You."

Maines says this somewhat "rockier" music is closer to her own sensibility than the country music world she dominated with her fellow Dixie Chicks.

As she confessed to CBS's Lee Cowan, she was never really a fan of country.

"It burned my ears," she said.

Tom Tangney, KIRO Radio Host, Film & Media Critic
Tom Tangney is the co-host of The Tom and Curley Show on KIRO Radio and resident enthusiast of...everything. As the film and media critic on the Morning News on KIRO Radio, he espouses his love for books, movies, TV, art, pop culture, politics, sports, and Husky football.
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