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Dixie Chicks Fire Back at Critics

Dixie Chicks’ lead singer Natalie Maines says she spoke against President Bush and war with Iraq last month out of frustration and regrets her choice of words, but she makes no apologies for thinking critically.

“I’m not truly embarrassed that, you know, President Bush is from my state, that’s not really what I care about,” Maines says in an interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer for “Primetime Thursday,” airing 10 p.m. EDT Thursday. “It was the wrong wording with genuine emotion and questions and concern behind it…. Am I sorry that I asked questions and that I just don’t follow? No.”

At a March 10 concert in London, Maines told the audience in reference to Bush’s push for military action against Iraq: “Just so you know, we’re ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”

Maines and the Texas-based trio’s other members – Emily Robison and Martie Maguire, who are sisters – also tell Sawyer the fallout was too harsh for the offense and they’ve always supported U.S. troops even though they questioned the war.

“We know some of our fans were shocked and… and upset, and we are compassionate to that,” Maguire said. “My problem is, when does it cross the line?… When is writing a threatening letter OK?”

The interview airs a week before they begin their U.S. tour May 1 in Greenville, S.C., and they appear nude on the May 2 issue of Entertainment Weekly, with epithets such as “Traitors” written on their bodies.

The Dixie Chicks declined a request to be interviewed by The Associated Press.

After Maines’ remarks, radio stations began boycotting the Dixie Chicks, even though she publicly apologized for her statement in London.

The song “Travelin’ Soldier,” which was No. 1 on Billboard’s country charts around the time Maines made the remark, tumbled completely off the charts afterward. And sales of the group’s latest CD, “Home,” plummeted, although sales have rebounded slightly, according to Nielsen SoundScan, which tracks music sales.

Even with the slide, however, “Home” remains the top-selling album on the Billboard country chart – 19 weeks at No. 1 – and No. 30 on the pop chart.

Most of the shows on their tour had already sold out before Maines’ comments. Their agent, Rob Light, was unavailable for comment Wednesday but told Billboard this week that of the 59 shows, only six have seats left and those are all 85 percent to 90 percent sold.

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