A Two-Step Away from Success?

FOR FIVE YEARS NOW, the Dixie Chicks- Dallas’ favorite all-girl country-bluegrass-swing-string band-have been sitting on stardom’s doorstep. But the band is no longer the same group that began developing a cult following playing for tips on street corners back in 1989.

Most recently, sisters Emily Erwin, 23, and Martie Siedel, 26, dumped 37-year-old lead singer Laura Lynch, replacing her with Lubbock’s Natalie Maines, the21-year-old daughter of steel-guitar legend Lloyd Maines. The surprising move came just months after the Chicks landed a development deal with Sony. The made-over band will be recording four songs this month, and if Sony execs like what they hear, a major record contract could be right around the corner.

“We knew we were taking a big risk changing lead singers,” says Erwin. “We could end up losing it all. ” But hoping to break into the burgeoning “young country” market, Erwin and her fiddle-playing sister thought it was important to develop their new sound before the Sony recording sessions. And after years of finding promised success elusive, the band was preparing to head back out on the road in case the Sony deal did not work out. Lynch, who wanted to spend time with her 14-year-old daughter, hated the grind of traveling.

Lynch is the second Chicks casualty: In 1992, the Dixie Chicks parted ways with singer-songwriter and guitarist Robin Macy, who refused to move away from her acoustic vision to make the group’s music more radio-friendly. “We defined success differently,” says Macy. She says the split was amicable, but Erwin claims otherwise. Macy did eventually sue the band on minor contractual issues. (An out-of-court settlement precludes either side from discussing details.) The Dixie Chicks’ first album without Macy, Shouldn’t-a Told You That, sold fewer copies than their two previous releases. Locally, the record got some airplay on KYNG-FM {105.3 ) but was not added to the regular rotation.

The Dixie Chicks are not the same band that Dallas fell in love with years ago. So now die question becomes; Has this revamped group of cowgirls found what it takes to impress the right people and woo a national audience, or have they lost the grass-roots edge that made them so special in the first place?

Newsletter

Keep me up to date on the latest happenings and all that D Magazine has to offer.

Comments