It's been 16 years since public opinion turned sharply against the Dixie Chicks, but what exactly did they do or say in the first place?

Two remarkable things happened on March 10, 2003, and this episode of The Secret History of Country Music makes a case that one affected the other in ways no one has ever truly appreciated. Of course, we remember Natalie Maines comments about President Bush in London and then her feud with Toby Keith.

If you're old enough to have lived it, you likely recall an explosive political climate in America and radio stations across the country going as far as to bring steam rollers in to crush Dixie Chicks albums. A few country stars piled on Maines, Emily Robison and Martie Maguire while one or two others came to their defense. Vince Gill's words fell mostly on deaf ears.

It all started with 12 little words that elicited cheers and laughter in the moment. Remember, this was before an era of social media, so word of what they said took time to get to the United States. They had been stars as big as Beyonce before it all went down, having just performed on Saturday Night Live, the No. 1 song in country music and the top country album.

The Secret History of Country Music is a new weekly series hosted by Taste of Country News host Ania Hammar. We'll go deeper inside the stories of country music's biggest hits, moments and figures. Look for episodes about Miranda Lambert and one of country's greatest songs ever coming up, and be sure to subscribe to Taste of Country's YouTube channel so you never miss a new episode.

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