Country Update, November 1998
WINCountry Update, in conjunction with Sony Music has
10 autographed copies of
Wide Open Spaces
To be in the draw to win a copy, write your name and address on the back of an envelope as well as the name of your favourite Dixie Chick.
Competition closes February 21, 1999
And sure enough, people started hiring the band.
On their way to their first gig, the girls figured they'd better come up with a name.
"The Little Feat song 'Dixie Chicken' came on the radio and we thought 'that's it'," said Emily.
"We became the Dixie Chickens -- only Martie didn't want to be a chicken, so we shortened it to Dixie Chicks."
The name has served the band for almost a decade, through the recording of three independent albums and their Sony debut, Wide Open Spaces, the album that has brought them gold status and worldwide acclaim.
Leaving Texas for the recording studios of Nashville was not an easy decision for the Dixie Chicks.
"Texas likes to think it has its own musical identity and doesn't like to give up its artists, especially to Nashville," said Emily.
"There was a lot of pressure on us when we decided to go to Nashville. People were worried we'd fall into the 'Nashville trap' and produce records that were too slick.
"We'd never really dreamed of being rich and famous. We just came from a bluegrass world. Martie and I had played in bluegrass festivals for years.
"It's not easy to make a living from music in Texas and to make money from what we were doing was the ultimate. We were quite happy with that.
"Then we found Natalie in 1995 -- she was steel guitarist Lloyd Maines' daughter and Lloyd had played on our independent albums. He's a staple of the Texas music industry and we asked his advice.
"Natalie came back from college at this stage. We'd heard her demo tapes and we were interested and she was real interested.
"So she joined us.
"Eventually our horizons got bigger and bigger, as horizons do, and we knew we had to go to Nashville.
"We were offered a record deal -- and everything's cool!"
And, it seems, the women have passed the Texas test: Wide Open Spaces has sold more copies in Texas than anywhere else.
"We rode the Nashville-Texas line and kept our signature sound," said Emily.
"We also kept the radio market in mind and I don't think we compromised anything. We really tried hard not to sound too slick and it was important to us to play our own instruments."
One of which, of course, was the banjo -- which isn't exactly a hot item in Nashville recording studios.
"For some reason Nashville sees the banjo as too hokey, too down home," said Emily.
"It's bluegrass, it's hillbilly and Nashville is trying so hard to be hip that sometimes it leaves behind its roots.
"So it was fun insisting on the banjo. We were very straightforward about what we wanted and Sony knew where we were coming from -- they let us colour outside the line."
The world may now be their oyster, but Texas is home -- always was, always will be.
The Dixie Chicks have spent months at a time away from Dallas and plan to return there after a trip to Australia in March for a short tour.
"We'd love to build a vacation around that trip," said Emily.
"I know it sounds really stereotypical, but I want to see some kangaroos and I'd like to go on an outback safari and to the beach.
"I'm a city girl at heart, not a cowgirl by any means.
"We all miss home when we're on the road.
"Texans are so proud. We like to think of ourselves as our own country.
"There's something indefinable about it, but when we leave Texas, we feel a difference immediately.
"The Australian terrain is a lot like Texas and our people are also really hospitable."
And the long-term plan?
"I certainly don't want to be on the road 300 days a year for the rest of my life," said Emily.
"But for now it's great.
"We're laying the groundwork to be able to pick and choose.
"Because with success comes freedom."
This article is copyright © 1998, Country Weekly, Australia. It is reproduced here without permission. If I can find their web site, I'll remove this page and just link directly to the article. It is being used in the context of my site's goal of exploring the history of the Dixie Chicks.
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