The Dixie Chicks are back on the charts with an album that set a new SoundScan record by selling 780,000 copies its first week of release. The members of the popular Country trio spent the past year-and-a-half at home in Texas, where they focused on their personal lives. VOA's Mary Morningstar has more on the Dixie Chicks and their new CD, Home.

The Dixie Chicks have been gone a long time. But after working for five straight years, the members felt they deserved some time off. During their hiatus, lead singer Natalie Maines gave birth to her first child. Martie Maguire, who plays banjo and dobro, got married. And, Martie's sister, fiddler Emily Robison, is soon expecting her first baby. Natalie explains why they titled their new album Home.

"It's the first CD we've recorded at home in Texas, and we were just all really settled. We took a year-and-a-half off after the 'Fly' tour, and really became at home with ourselves. This album reflects that," says Natalie.

Following a tour in support of their 1999 album Fly, Natalie, Emily and Martie all moved back to their home state of Texas.

Last year, they began work on their latest album with Natalie's father, respected producer Lloyd Maines. The Dixie Chicks describe the recording process as "a family affair." Included on Home is their new version of Travelin' Soldier, written and originally recorded by Emily's brother-in-law Bruce Robison.

While making Home, the Dixie Chicks were embroiled in a legal battle with their record company, Sony Music Group. They charged Sony with nonpayment of royalties, and announced they would not fulfill their contract with the label. Sony executives sued the Dixie Chicks, claiming the trio owed the company more than $100-million for five undelivered albums. They reached an agreement this past June, with the Dixie Chicks getting a $20-million settlement, plus increased royalties and their own label under Sony Records. Natalie Maines explains what it was like to record an album under those conditions.

"It was actually very freeing," she admits. "One thing that we told our lawyers and we promised our fans when we when into that is that the music would not be put on hold or would not suffer. So, they guaranteed us we could go ahead and make a record even though we didn't have a label. It's probably the only time we'll ever get to make a record without a label. And it was nice to not have outside voices asking about song length and radio singles. We just made the record we wanted to make."

Home's first single, Long Time Gone, peaked at Number 2 on the Country chart. The Dixie Chicks current hit is their version of Landslide, written by Stevie Nicks for Fleetwood Mac's 1975 self-titled album.

"I heard the song, and thought we would a good job at it and do it differently. I heard it in Austin, and told them that they had to do it," she says.

The Dixie Chicks will make just one concert appearance this year. On October 19, they'll perform at the State Fair of Texas. A major tour in support of Home is expected to begin in April. The Dixie Chicks say the acoustic feel of their new album isn't suited for shows in big arenas. Instead, they plan to put together a multi-artist festival tour, with concerts set in outdoor amphitheaters.