Darius Rucker Says Country Music Did the ‘Dumbest Thing’ by Shunning the Chicks in 2003
There are few years-old incidents that still fire country fans up the way the genre's blackballing of the Chicks does. Whether they were a country music fan at the time or not, whether they support the trio or agree with their industry-wide shunning, pretty much everyone has an opinion on what happened to the band following Natalie Maines' 2003 comments about then-President George W. Bush.
Darius Rucker, for one, is on the Chicks' side.
"[They were the] biggest thing in the business, they say one sentence, [and] every station stops playing their music. That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard in my life," Rucker tells Today.
Even today, artists cite the Chicks' quick downfall following that moment onstage in London as a reason for staying quiet about political matters and other hot-button topics. Though younger generations of both artists and fans are more likely to speak out and, therefore, turn that tide, the fear of getting "Dixie Chicked" has created a culture of silence when it comes to matters such as same-sex marriage, Black Lives Matter, presidential elections and more — particularly if you're an artist who holds more liberal or Democratic-leaning values.
"One sentence could end your career in country music. It's proven," Rucker notes to Harry Smith.
Rucker's comments about the Chicks — who recently dropped the word "Dixie" from their name and are preparing to release a brand-new album, Gaslighter, on Friday (July 17) — come in response to Smith's questions about Rucker's own decision to share his support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
"I'm sure I've already lost fans," Rucker admits, but he explains that he now understands it's not okay for him, a Black man, to pretend casual racism and microaggressions are okay.
"Really, you get to the point where you go, 'That's just how it is,'" he says. "But I can't live like that anymore ..."
Rucker, 54, says he's lived with racism his whole life, citing instances when he's been stopped by police for being "a Black guy in an expensive car" or told by radio programmers that they won't play his music because he's Black. He's choosing to speak up now, he says, for his three children.
"Watching them go through this ... They're just at that age now when they have to look at it," Rucker explains. "I don't want that for my boy. I don't want that for my daughters. I don't want that for anybody."
Why Were the Chicks Banned, Anyway?
The Chicks and the Top 100 Albums of All Time