Dixie Chick Natalie Maines Goes Solo, Leaves Controversial Past Behind

Dixie Chick Natalie Maines has gone solo, appearing on stage at the South By Southwest festival without her bandmates as she attempts to make a name for herself outside of her controversial past.

The appearance at the Austin City Limits Live hall was seen as a training of sorts for the longtime Dixie Chicks singer, who is embarking on a solo effort. Maines is set to release a new album on May 7 titled Mother, and the solo concert for the Dixie Chick matched the set list for the album.

As the Dixie Chick goes solo, she also introduces a new look and feel, USA Today‘s Mike Snider noted.

“Since her band won four Grammys in 2007, Maines has gained a Bieber ‘do and her voice hasn’t lost anything,” he wrote. “It’s strong, clear — and sorely missed. However, she lacked the spunk that used to be on display as lead singer of the beloved band.”

The Dixie Chick wasn’t entirely solo in her Austin concert. She was backed by a six-piece band that included guest guitarist Ben Harper, who helped produce Maines’ solo effort. The album has more influence from rock than her normal country efforts, which critics said takes some getting used to.

Maines said she is embracing the chance to step out on her own and craft her own identity. It’s not clear whether the Dixie Chicks will perform together as a group, Maines said.

“I think I thought time would heal and that I would come around. But just like the song says, I’m still waiting,” the 38-year-old Maines told The Associated Press, citing a lyric from the band’s defiant single “Not Ready to Make Nice.”

Mother will be Maines’ first project since the Chicks made their last album in 2006.

As the Dixie Chick goes solo, she’s taking a step away from a band that brought her both fame an infamy. Nearly a decade ago, the outspoken singer criticized then-President George W. Bush, earning a backlash from fans and country radio stations.