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Dixie Chicks’ Natalie Maines Confesses: Country Music ‘Burned My Ears’

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Natalie Maines (Photo by Larry Busacca/Getty Images for NARAS)

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It’s a funny thing sometimes how quickly times–and musical tastes–can change.

Take Natalie Maines, for instance. As lead vocalist for the 13-time GRAMMY-winning Dixie Chicks, she was once among the leading voices in country music, mainstream or otherwise. Today, however, she tells CBS Sunday Morning‘s Lee Cowan she was never really a fan of the genre, in an interview set to broadcast this weekend.

Maines didn’t simply dislike country, she said “it burned my ears.” Ouch.

The revelation comes as Maines is emerging with a new focus as a solo artist–her debut solo album Mother was released May 7. The Chicks are still performing occasional dates, but they have not released any new music since 2006.

And the material on Mother is aimed not at her country fans but at rock audiences. It includes covers of songs by Pink Floyd, Pearl Jam, Jeff Buckley, and others–not a single country song or lick to be found, let alone fiddles and banjos.

“To me, this is album is the most natural music I’ve ever made,” Maines tells Cowan. “This is what I like, what I listen to, what I grew up singing songs like.”

Aside from the revelation about her ears burning, she also said she was glad to have Mother free of political or reactionary implications (the Dixie Chicks famously made controversial remarks about then-president George W. Bush in 2003).

“I’m not fighting any battles on this album,” Maines recently told Hollywood Reporter.

She also spoke in that interview about her move to rock music.

“This is more what comes naturally to me,” she explained. “Not that anything with the Chicks didn’t; all my musical instincts still fit in in that configuration and that music as well. But I didn’t grow up listening to country music. I pretty much grew up rebelling against country music. So I’m right back where I started! It feels perfect.”

But as for the current state of the Dixie Chicks, Maines maintains that the group is still together.

“The Dixie Chicks still exist, she said. “The music still exists. I am open to playing live shows. It’s fun.”

CBS Sunday Morning‘s interview with Natalie Maines airs on Sunday, May 12 at 9am ET on CBS.

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