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?
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).
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!'"
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.
[Picture: Chicks on stage with instruments]
"The music is the core to it all," says Seidel (right, onstage this year in Nashville).
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."
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.
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
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."
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...
[Picture (B/W): Two cute little Chicks]
Young Erwin (left) and Seidel (in 1975) practiced music and watched little TV.
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."
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).
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
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!"
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.
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
That would be Robin Lynn Macy first, then
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.
[Picture: Chicks in a wood-paneled office signing autographs]
"We've worked our whole lives for this," says Erwin (left, signing in Independence, Mo.).
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
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."
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!
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.