Standing Ovation For Dixie Chicks

A drop in record sales and a radio boycott has been leaving The Dixie Chicks feeling anything but on "Top of the World," as their world tour is called.

But The Early Show entertainment contributor Laurie Hibberd reports, that changed Thursday when deafening cheers and a standing ovation greeted The Dixie Chicks as they opened the first leg of their U.S. tour. It was seven weeks since their lead singer Natalie Maines made her controversial anti-war comment about President Bush to a British audience, unleashing a backlash against the trio.

Ironically, their down-home greeting came just as President Bush addressed the nation aboard the USS Lincoln.

Throughout the Greenville-Spartanburg area Thursday night, 15,000 fans let The Dixie Chicks know they believe it is time to forgive and forget.

Maines told the crowd that many people thought the fans wouldn't show up, but she told them she knew they'd be there.

The threat of protests brought out extra security, but it wasn't necessary. The media outnumbered the protesters. But the 20 or so demonstrators who did show up had two main beefs: One protester said she was against, "the fact that they opened their big mouths on foreign soil." But another said she didn't like their apology, which sounded phony. "They just wanted to get better sales over here anyway. They wanted the fans to go back on their side and support them and buy their CDs and go to their concerts."

In nearby Spartanburg, an anti-Chicks concert offered free admission to anyone who traded in Dixie Chicks tickets.

A woman there showing the picture of her husband said, "My husband is serving over in Kuwait and he usually buys me the Dixie Chicks' CD every year and I was so disappointed by Natalie's comments that I've written a thousand letters and told him no more."

The concert also raised more than $100,000 for military families. Radio talk show host Mike Gallagher helped organize the event.

Gallager said, "I was happy to speak out against Natalie Maines. What she said on the eve of a war about our commander-in-chief was despicable.

It was before a performance of "Travelin' Soldier" that Maines seven weeks ago told British audiences, "We are ashamed that the President of the United States is from Texas." The backlash was brutal but this week in South Carolina, their fans were with them, lining up to get in.

With hat in hand, a fan said, "I'm so glad all these people are in the line, because this is going to be a great concert and the people who boycott it are gonna be missing out."

At one point, Maines gave the audience a chance to boo. She offered the crowd 15 seconds to get things off their chests. But what she got was another standing ovation.