Natalie Louise Maines Pasdar, now known as Natalie Maines, was born in Lubbock, Texas She is the daughter of country musician and producer Lloyd Maines and Tina May Maines. In 1992 she graduated from Lubbock High School where she had participated in the school choir. Maines then attended several colleges.
In 1994, Maines auditioned for and received a full vocal scholarship to Berklee College of Music. She pursued the diploma program at Berklee but dropped out before the completion of her studies.
Maines' first commercially released work was background vocals on Pat Green's debut album, Dancehall Dreamer, produced by her father Lloyd Maines and released in 1995. At the end of 1995, at age 21, Maines joined the all-female country music band, the Dixie Chicks, which had been performing since 1989, but which had been unsuccessful in gaining more than local attention. Maines replaced founding lead singer Laura Lynch. She plays guitar, bass, and papoose in concert in the band.
Maines co-wrote four tracks for the Dixie Chicks' first three albums, including the Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks Chart number one hit "Without You" on Fly. Maines was a primary songwriter on all 14 tracks of the band's 2006 album Taking the Long Way which peaked on the Billboard Top 200 Chart at #1. Taking the Long Way has the Billboard Hot 100 single "Not Ready to Make Nice," hitting #4. and for which the band won the songwriting Grammy Award, for Song of the Year.
Maines considers the songwriting she did for Taking the Long Way "pure therapy" after the controversy that ensued over a comment Maines made from the stage in London that criticized U.S. President George W. Bush. "Everything felt more personal this time", Maines said about the album, "...there's just more maturity, depth, intelligence...[These songs] feel more grown-up."
Maines has collaborates with other musical artists, both as a member of the Dixie Chicks and an individual singer. The Dixie Chicks first worked with Sheryl Crow in 1999 while performing for the concert tour Lilith Fair. Since then, the Dixie Chicks have worked with Crow on her Sheryl Crow and Friends: Live from Central Park album, a Crow remixed version of "Landslide" performed by the Chicks, and the Dixie Chicks' song "Favorite Year" from Taking the Long Way.
Other artists Maines has worked with include Pat Green, Charlie Robison, Yellowcard, Stevie Nicks, Patty Griffin, Neil Finn, Eddie Vedder and Pete Yorn.
Two 2006 documentaries, Protesting the Dixie Chicks and Shut Up And Sing, deal with the controversy surrounding Maines' comment and the ensuing fallout.
In 2007, the Dixie Chicks won three Grammys for "Not Ready to Make Nice" and two Grammys for Taking the Long Way, receiving all five Grammys for which they were nominated. This was seen by some as vindication for the Dixie Chicks, who were shunned by country radio programmers after Maines' remarks about President Bush.
Even though the Dixie Chicks received five Grammy awards, they were forced to cancel a select few shows in the States due to lack of ticket sales. Shows were added to Canada, which received high response from fans.