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Dixie Chicks in People Magazine, 9/28/1998

In one episode of Pinky and the Brain, Brain's plan for world domination requires that he become famous -- and declares that the threshold of fame is reached by appearing on the cover of People Magazine. Well, the Dixie Chicks didn't make it to the cover... but they did get a nice two page write up.

The contents page starts with a picture of the Chicks jumping on the bed... the caption reads, "Their sweet harmonies -- and the way they strut their stuff -- have made Dixie Chicks country's darlings." The regular index entry reads, "With a platinum album and No. 1 single, country music's rockin' Dixie Chicks are taking flight"

This manual transcription of the article includes the comments I would have written in the margin if it weren't for the Internet. The text should be considered copyright 1998, Time Inc. See the bottom of this page for more details.

The article itself starts on page 167, which is better than being the cover story... since doesn't everyone start reading People from the "Chatter" section at the end?

Feather Friends

With a platinum album and No. 1 single, Dixie Chicks rule country music's roost

[Picture: Chicks lolling on the sofa]
"Other musicians would die for what we've got now," says Erwin (right, with, from left, Seidel and Maines at Maines's Dallas home).

So is there any doubt that Natalie is the wild one? I'm here to tell ya, you wouldn't have seen the shy, quiet Laura Lynch gettin' a bod mod... Luckily, the Chicks later changed their story, saying they'll only celebrate their first gold, platinum, and #1 hit.
When it comes to celebrating milestones, country music's Dixie Chicks know how to make a moment last. Shortly after the January release of the Dallas-based trio's debut album, Wide Open Spaces, lead singer Natalie Maines had a wild idea: She and her bandmates Martie Seidel and Emily Erwin, who are sisters, would commemorate each gold record and No. 1 hit with a tiny chicken's foot tattooed on an ankle. "We said, 'Yeah, sure,' thinking it was way down the line," says Erwin. "Then five months later we were going gold, and we said, 'Oh, no! We're getting a tattoo!'"

[Picture: Chicks on stage with instruments]
"The music is the core to it all," says Seidel (right, onstage this year in Nashville).

Luckily for Emily and Martie, the Chicks have decided not to add a 'tat for each CMA award. They won both awards in the nationally televised ceremony September 23rd.
Last month, Wide Open Spaces went platinum, and the single "There's Your Trouble" reached No. 1, requiring another not-yet-scheduled trip to the tattoo parlor in Nashville. Less painful achievements might be in store Sept. 23 at the Country Music Association Awards, where Dixie Chicks are up for Best Vocal Group and the Horizon Award for best newcomer. Such honors are becoming routine, thanks to tunes that The Washington Post says have "harmonies and attitude to spare" and "recall the days before Nashville discovered ways of turning out overproduced hits with assembly line efficiency."

I didn't see the signs during what I saw of the big homecoming concert at the State Fair of Texas (September 27, 1998), but the average fan was a teenage female with her parents in tow. The parents, though, were pleasantly surprised to discover that the Dixie Chicks could actually play those instruments...
Even too-hip-for-country teens are getting into the act. A growing legion of adolescent female fans -- often wearing Chicks Rule T-shirts and carrying I Want to Be a Dixie Chick signs -- have prompted some to dub the Chicks the Spice Girls of country. But the trio quickly dispel that notion. "People show up thinking, 'Well, they're cute, and I kind of like that one song they do,'" says Maines, 23, the band's lead singer. "I just love watching them react when Martie [the fiddle and mandolin player] and [guitarist and banjo player] Emily rip into a bluegrass instrumental."

[Picture (B/W): Two cute little Chicks]
Young Erwin (left) and Seidel (in 1975) practiced music and watched little TV.

This means that when the Erwin sisters' parents split, the girls were 17 and 19. Even though the ages are wrong, this seems to be the "baggage" that the girls borrowed for the moving ballad, "You Were Mine." See the Liner Notes for more details (and the Dallas Morning News for confirmation).
Growing up in Dallas, the two youngest of private-school teachers Paul and Barbara Erwin's three daughters, Emily and Martie were fed a balanced musical diet. "I felt that they should know how to play an instrument," says Barbara, 53, who split with Paul in 1989. "We took them to the symphony and bribed them to sit still by promising we would take them out to breakfast afterward." As their mother monitored practice sessions with an egg timer, the girls grudgingly mastered a variety of instruments, from violin to guitar. "I'd hear kids outside playing kickball, and I hated that I was inside," says Erwin, 26. "Now, of course, I'm grateful for it."

If memory serves, one of the founding Dixie Chicks, Robin Lynn Macy, was a teacher at nearby St. Mark's School of Texas. Laura Lynch may have also had a St. Mark's connection. This private school connection (remember that the Erwins' parents were private school teachers) would make a great explanation of how the original four Dixie Chicks found each other... but inside sources say that it didn't happen that way.
By 1984, the girls were performing in Blue Night Express, a bluegrass troupe that toured Texas. When it disbanded in 1989, they joined two singer pals and began performing on sidewalks in Dallas' business district, raking in more than $100 a day. Christening themselves Dixie Chicks after a Little Feat tune, they piled their hair high and glammed it up in denim and sequins. After Erwin graduated from the Greenhill [High] School and Seidel dropped in and out of several colleges, the foursome hit the road in a Dodge van. "It would be a hundred degrees with makeup melting down our faces," recalls Seidel, 28. "And there's one of us in each seat trying to pull on our little cowgirl suits and boots. Ugh!"

That would be Robin Lynn Macy first, then Laura Lynch.

On the third album, "Shouldn't A Told You That", Martie Erwin (now Martie Seidel) sings beautifully on the song "I Wasn't Looking For You." But in concert -- at the last pre-Natalie concert at Billy Bob's Texas (August 1994), Martie was visibly nervous and really had trouble getting through the song. It's no exaggeration; she was scared to death.

Hey, Natalie... some of us liked "those cowgirl clothes"! But could they have reached #1 in them? Probably not.

Undeterred, the Dixie Chicks whistled right along, recording three albums and playing at political galas for George Bush and Bill Clinton. But one singer left in 1992, followed by the second vocalist three years later, leaving the sisters without a voice. "Neither of us wanted to be a lead singer; that would've scared us to death," says Seidel. Enter Maines, a Lubbock, Texas, native and Boston's Berklee School of Music dropout whose dad, Lloyd, had played steel guitar on two of Dixie Chicks' albums. Invited to join, "I told them yes before I even thought it over," she says. "The only thing I knew for sure was that I wasn't going to wear those cowgirl clothes."

[Picture: Chicks in a wood-paneled office signing autographs]
"We've worked our whole lives for this," says Erwin (left, signing in Independence, Mo.).

Here in Dallas, we've known that the Chicks were "for real" since 1990. Congratulations to the Dixie Chicks on their incredible, overdue, and well-deserved success!
Today, their sartorial -- and romantic -- situation is much improved. Seidel and Maines are happily married (to pharmaceutical sales rep Ted Seidel and bassist Michael Tarabay, respectively), while Erwin plans to marry singer-songwriter Charlie Robison in May. On the road until early winter, the group has had little time to enjoy their success, but they're not complaining. "There are lots of people who put out records you never hear from again," says Maines. Seidel nods in agreement. "There's no guarantee that won't happen to us," she says. "I feel like right now is the good old days. I think right now is the proving stage, to prove that we're for real."

This text was manually transcribed from the 9/28/1998 issue of People Weekly, a Time, Inc. publication. It is reproduced here in accordance with the Fair Use doctrines of US Copyright laws. It is being used in the context of my site's goal of exploring the history of the Dixie Chicks. The text of the article is Copyright 1998, Time, Inc.

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