When Natalie Maines told a London audience in 2003 she was “ashamed” that President Bush came from her home state of Texas, the fallout almost destroyed the Dixie Chicks, then the biggestselling female band in history. It led to boycotts by all-powerful country radio in the US, with outraged fans publicly burning their CDs on a scale not witnessed since John Lennon’s infamous “bigger than Jesus” claim.
Barbara Kopple’s brilliant documentary follows the trio over the next three years as they sustain their careers in the face of tour sponsors on the verge of withdrawing financial support and frantic damage-limitation proposals by their record label. That such an innocuous remark from an unlikely voice of dissent should have caused so much fuss is astonishing, but Kopple reveals these three unassuming women to be savvy individuals with clear consciences and admirable ethics. Uplifting and inspirational, even the most committed country music refuseniks will cheer the protagonists on.
Feisty and funny throughout, Maines is the star of the show, unrepentant until the end. After the film was completed, the Chicks’ new material earned them five Grammys, three for the defiant Not Ready To Make Nice, a song which sums up precisely why they should be cherished.