Classic CMA Awards Moments, #21: Dixie Chicks, Sinnin’ and Winnin’ (2000)

#21: Dixie Chicks
Sinnin’ and Winnin’

In 2000, the Dixie Chicks demonstrated their artistic integrity and their clear stranglehold on country music, buoyed by musical know-how and lyrical honesty and eloquence. Their near-sweep remains one of the most dominant performances by an act in a single ceremony.

With their four victories in 2000, the Texas trio was the true champion of the evening. They claimed the prestigious Entertainer of the Year trophy, becoming only the second group (Alabama) to win the award. They also took home Album of the Year for Fly, Vocal Group of the Year (for the third year running) and Video of the Year for their controversial “Goodbye Earl,” a clip that included cameos from Dennis Franz and Jane Krakowski as an abusive husband and his revenge-minded wife.

Also that evening, the trio ripped through the delicious “Sin Wagon”, a tribute to mattress dancing, hell raising and hard living. Natalie Maines, decked out in a red dress and surrounded by a set filled with fake flames, sang a roaring version of the devilish song. And sisters Martie McGuire and Emily Robison displayed the passionate pickin’ and playin’ that elevated them to the very top of Nashville’s musical ladder. The winning evening was a fitting end to a year of higher-than-the-sky success for the group, as Fly would eventually soar to over ten million copies sold.

The following year, in the wake of the 9-11 attacks, the three women introduced a national audience to the Bruce Robison-written “Travelin’ Soldier,” a three-act story that features a young woman, the love of her life and his death in the Vietnam War. Beautifully told, it terrifically captured the mood of the moment, and won a rousing ovation from the industry crowd. The Dixie Chicks won the 2002 Vocal Group of the Year award to tally their 10th CMA win, but since that victory the trio has only received scattered nominations.

Dixie Chicks, “Sin Wagon” (2000):

Dixie Chicks, “Travelin’ Soldier” (2001):


  1. This is a trio that consistently pushes the boundaries of what is supposedly “acceptable” to the conservative world of mainstream country, and their wins for FLY, “Goodbye Earl”, and “Travelin’ Solder” are proof of that. The fact that they haven’t received that kind of love from the country music establishment since then because of Natalie’s “Bushwhacking” doesn’t diminish them in any way (IMHO).

  2. I think if Natalie was to make that comment today it would be a whole different story and their musec would still be rocking country radio but they did prove they don’t need country radio they swept the Grammy’s 2 years ago and you can’t get any bigger than the Grammy’s and they got all 5 they were nominated for

  3. Seeing old clips of the Chicks is a bit heartbreaking. As much as I love that they say anything they want, I miss having them on the radio and on award shows. They should still be packing arenas.

  4. They are missed and I appreciate the country dj’s that will still play them.
    Granted, it would be nice if the Chicks would grow up and stop dragging this out (see recent big Grammy wins).
    And the country music fans that call up the dj’s with stupid comments after a Chicks song need to grow up, too.
    The whole thing is old and silly now and it would be nice if all parties could move forward.

    I wish I had nothing else to worry about and could focus on what a country singer said years ago.

  5. I love the dixie chicks and could care less about their political views. However- I do think they need to “make nice” already and just put out good music without the snarky songs to just put oil on the fire. I was so excited for their new album to come out- and then they had to release a song like “not ready to make nice”- which just alienated even more people and made them even more upset. I still bought the album and will always buy their music– but I wish they would grow up and stop making things worse.

  6. I thought “not ready to make nice” was one of their best pieces ever so raw emotional and real. They were really put through the fire for her comments (which she is free to have), death threats, burning of their cd’s, careers on the line, canceled concerts. The lyrics are perfection and descriptive, the arrangement is amazing, and when you get to the bridge of the song and the orchestra goes full force it just gives me chills everytime. You can feel how personal the song is for them.

  7. Wow, what two great videos. I’m really glad that you are doing this feature as I was too young to remember these CMA’s, although I am getting deja vu when watching the 2001 video.

    As a side-note, I agree with vp, that “Not Ready To Make Nice” had to be done. It wasn’t a display of immaturity but of honesty. The Long Way Around had to be done, and it is probably just as great as Home. And I don’t think the Chicks are dragging anything out by not making a new album, I thought one of them was pregnant while the others were busy with their lives as well so that was why we haven’t seen new music yet. Unless I’m mistaken?

  8. I don’t feel that the Dixie Chicks are dragging anything out. There’s no point in them going to any country awards – They’re not wanted there anymore… They’ve moved on away from country radio, and radio has moved on without them. And yes, Jake, they’ve been busy with their own lives – Martie had her third child awhile back, and Emily’s been through her divorce so I don’t think any new music is coming out soon.

  9. women like the dixie chicks do not need country radio at all.

    a media format that seems to believe, it can go on pretending to overlook a musical act of historic proportions in its genre, and here i strictly refer to their artistic impact, not their publicly voiced personal take on politics, is not even a joke anymore – it’s a patient. what a pity, that radio and nashville can’t resort to cartoons with yellow charakters, pet aliens or kenny to deal with the uncomfortable and seemingly “unspeakable”, like tv and its audience can.

    much appreciated post, blake.

  10. It’s nice cause here in Canada the Chicks are loved and played often on our country radio and other genre stations, they are also played alot on the video shows, like nothing ever happened, we tend not to hold grudges.

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