Outburst

 

On the eve of the Iraq war in 2003, Maines told a London audience: "Just so you know, we're ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas."

 

The 49th Grammy Awards

"I for the first time in my life am speechless"

Natalie Maines,
The Dixie Chicks

Official Website

That immediately made the band targets of hate mail, boycotts and radio phone-ins.

 

But the US mood has changed considerably since the Iraq war began.

 

The standing ovations the Chicks received on Sunday illustrated how much the political climate has changed regarding the Iraq war, and even Bush.

 

"That's interesting," Maines crowed from the podium after the country award was handed out.

 

"Well, to quote the great 'Simpsons': 'Heh-Heh,'", she said, invoking a character known for his gloating laugh from The Simpsons TV show.

 

"Just kidding," said Maines.

 

"A lot of people just turned their TVs off right now. I'm very sorry for that."

 

Gratitude

 

The Dixie Chicks won everything they were nominated for at the awards including best country album, even though the group do not consider themselves to be country artists any more.

 

Maines could not resist the irony of winning the award following the backlash received by the genre's power brokers.

 

When the song Not Ready to Make Nice won song of the year, Maines said: "I for the first time in my life am speechless."

 

Mary J Blige even thanked the
tape delivery boy [AFP]
But she quickly got over it.

 

On the verge of tears, she thanked her husband and her children for their support.

 

"They're the ones that probably had it the hardest over the last three years, and I just wanted to recognise that we know what you went through. Thank you very much."

 

Other winners

 

Mary J Blige, the US soul singer, set a Grammy record to go with the armful of awards she won on Sunday for "most people thanked in a single acceptance speech".

 

Accepting her R&B album of the year award for The Breakthrough, Blige dropped 55 names in three minutes, including God, Jesus, her three children, countless record-company executives and the tape delivery boy.

 

The Red Hot Chili Peppers won three awards for their double-disc Stadium Arcadium, while country singer and former American Idol winner Carrie Underwood won best new artist.

 

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