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Martie Maguire is an American songwriter, singer, multi-instrumentalist, and a founding member of the multiple Grammy Award-winning female alternative country band the Dixie Chicks. She is a master fiddler, having won awards in National fiddle championships while still a teenager. In addition to the fiddle, Maguire is accomplished on several other instruments including the mandolin, viola, acoustic bass, and guitar. She has written and co-written a generous number of the band's songs, many of which have become chart-topping hits. She also contributes her skills in vocal harmony and backing vocals, as well as orchestrating string arrangements for the band. Read Full Bio >>
Maguire learned several instruments at a young age, honing her instrumental skills with her sister, Emily Robison (neé Emily Erwin), by playing together with two other schoolmates for over five years as a part of a high school touring bluegrass quartet. After graduation, the two forged an alliance with two other women they had known through the Dallas music scene; Laura Lynch and Robin Lynn Macy, forming a bluegrass and country music band, busking and touring the bluegrass festival circuits for six years. After the departure of Macy, and the replacement of Lynch with singer-songwriter Natalie Maines, the band widened their musical repertoire and appearance. The result was a trio so commercially successful that it took the country music industry by surprise, with a number of hit songs, albums, awards and industry recognition that has set new records.
In 2003, lead vocalist Natalie Maines made a disparaging remark about United States President George W. Bush. This, on the eve of the United States' invasion of Iraq lost half of their North American fan base, with boycotts of their albums and the refusal of country music stations to play their songs. Maguire and Robison supported Maines for exercising her constitutional right to freedom of speech despite death threats verified by the FBI and Texas Rangers, and predictions of the end of the band. The Chicks toured overseas, and worked with Rick Rubin, who has become famous in the music industry in revitalizing and transforming artists' careers. The Dixie Chicks produced a "comeback" album; the first completely written or co-written by the trio, with a change in sound from primarily bluegrass and country music to one adding a larger measure of blues, folk, and rock music in their songs. It won five Grammy Awards in 2007, earning the band new respect, a feeling of vindication, and a somewhat different crossover fan base. The Dixie Chicks continue to be one of the most controversial, yet highest selling bands in history.
Martha Elenor Erwin (nicknamed "Martie") was born October 12, 1969, in York, Pennsylvania, but was raised in Addison, a northern suburban town on the edge of Dallas, Texas, with an older sister, Julia, and younger sister, Emily, to parents Paul Erwin and Barbara Trask. Encouraged by her parents- both educators at private schools - Maguire began playing classical violin at age five, and by age 12, was learning to play "fiddle style", with a birthday gift of fiddle lessons, and was active in her school orchestra. Emily Erwin, (later known as Emily Robison), three years her junior, also shared an early talent, interest and love of music, and the two were provided musical instruction on several instruments. Because of this, although Maguire became famous for her ability in vocal harmony, and mastery of the fiddle, she also plays a variety of stringed instruments that include the viola, guitar, mandolin, and bass.
By 1983, Maguire was touring with her sister Emily and school friends; siblings Troy and Sharon Gilchrist. The sisters showed an "almost obsessive" interest in busking at small venues and attending bluegrass festivals. The four students formed the teenage bluegrass group "Blue Night Express", playing together for 5 years, from 1984-1989, while still attending private Greenhill School (Addison, Texas). "We'd drive down to the west end of Dallas and open our cases, and that was our job," Maguire said of it in a later interview to 60 Minutes II correspondent Dan Rather. "That's how we made money in high school." In 1987, Maguire, known then still as Martha Erwin, was awarded second place for the fiddle in the National fiddle championships held yearly in Winfield, Kansas. After graduation of high school, with Robison yet to complete her secondary school studies, from 1988 to 1989, Maguire attended Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas, performing in the school orchestra there and again in the National fiddle championships, earning third place that year.
In 1989, Maguire and Robison joined guitarist Robin Lynn Macy and Laura Lynch on bass playing what was at the time predominantly bluegrass music and a beguiling mix of country standards. When they were booked for their first paid appearances, they chose to call themselves the Dixie Chicks after a song, "Dixie Chicken" written by Lowell George of the band Little Feat. Originally listed as Martha, and then Martie Erwin, Maguire played fiddle, mandolin, viola and harmonized with Robison on backing vocals within the band.
In 1990, the Dixie Chicks paid $5,000 for a first independent studio album with the name,Thank Heavens for Dale Evans, and in 1991 a Christmas single at the end of the year- a 45 rpm vinyl recording named "Home on the Radar Range", with "Christmas Swing" on one side and the song on the flip side in a clever play on words, named "The Flip Side". The record titles were significant; during that period of time, the bandmates dressed up as "cowgirls", and publicity photos reflected this image. However, even with an appearance at the Grand Ole Opry, with few exceptions, such as Garrison Keillor's radio show, on PBS, A Prarie Home Companion, they didn't get much national airplay.
By 1992 the women had opened for several big name country musicians, including Reba McEntire, Garth Brooks, and George Strait, among others, as well as releasing a second independent studio album,Little Ol' Cowgirl. Although they had originally been billed as an "all cowgirl" or "all-girl" band, they dropped that description as they enlisted the assistance of session musicians to produce a fuller, richer sound in their music. Maguire commented, "I hope our fans won't be disappointed (in The Little Ol' Cowgirl); it's got drums on every track; it's no longer bluegrass, but we have to make a living and you can't do that playing bluegrass." One of these sidemen was accomplished producer and steel guitarist Lloyd Maines, in nearby Lubbock, Texas, who played on both their second (and third) independent albums, and with whom they developed a mutual respect as musicians. In doing so, they met Lloyd's daughter, Natalie, who was also an aspiring musician. However, not all of the band members were pleased in the direction that their music was taking. Macy left, seeking a "purer bluegrass sound". The remaining band gamely continued playing and embarked upon a European mini tour, which they chronicled in a "Dixie Chick Chat" newsletter for fans, but the trip wasn't a commercial career boost. With the gap left by Macy, Lloyd passed Natalie's audition demo tape that had won her a full scholarship to the Berklee School of Music, to Maguire and Robison. Her distinctive voice was a match for Maguire's soprano and Robison's alto harmonies. As Maguire and Robison considered their options, and the major record labels waffled over whether they should take a risk on an all-women's band a few reviewers did see things differently:
"Some record label executives will be kicking themselves soon enough when the Dixie Chicks are queens of the honky-tonk circuit. If their show at the Birchmere last week was any indication, these Chicks have what it takes to make the big time, yet no major label has taken the plunge to sign them." Eric Brace, The Washington Post March 30, 1992
Unaware other possibilities were being considered by the Erwin sisters, Lynch, thrust into the role of sole lead singer on their third independent album, Shouldn't a Told You That in 1993, had been unable to attract support from a major record label even when she had a co-lead vocalist before. By 1995, she was replaced by Maguire and Robison with singer-songwriter Natalie Maines after the group was still unable to garner little more than local interest. The change left the cowgirl dresses in the past, leaving the band with a more contemporary look and a sound that was broader in appeal.
After Natalie Maines assumed the position of lead vocalist, the band was revitalized. Maguire said of their music, "It's very rootsy, but then Natalie comes in with a rock and blues influence. That gave Emily and I a chance to branch out, because we loved those kinds of music but felt limited by our instruments." The current Dixie Chicks began touring and were scouted and signed by Sony's Monument Records in 1996. A single "I Can Love You Better" was released in October 1997, and reached the Top 10 on American country music charts, while the new lineup recorded the rest of their debut album. The finished result was released on January 27, 1998, Wide Open Spaces. Although it was the fourth album for the Dixie Chicks, most fans now consider it their first, because it was their first major label release, and with Maines, the band's look and sound changed significantly. This first album for the current band added a widespread audience to their original loyal following, entering the top five on both country and pop charts with initial sales of 12 million copies in the country music arena alone, taking the record for the best-selling duo or group album in country music history. In 1998 the Dixie Chicks sold more CDs than all other country music groups combined.
Both as a single and an album, Wide Open Spaces flowed musically and harmoniously. The eponymous title song, although written by folksinger Susan Gibson, provided lyrics that all three members felt were so semi-biographical in nature, that years later in October, 2006 they commented on it on a Vh1 storytellers program before performing the song.
"Many precede and many will follow,
A young girl's dream no longer hollow,
It takes the shape of a place out west;
But what it holds for her, she hasn't yet guessed
She needs wide open spaces,
Room to make her big mistakes,
She needs new faces,
She knows the high stakes."
Big Country music took note of the Chicks, awarding them the Horizon Award for new artists in 1998, which, according to CBS News, is "given to someone expected to have a long, successful career". By 1999, the album won the new line up their first Grammy Awards as well as acclaim from the Country Music Association, the Academy of Country Music, and other high profile awards. The album yielded five singles ranking in the top ten in the American Billboard charts, and of them, three became number one hits. In 1998, the Dixie Chicks sold more CDs than all other country music groups combined.
The Dixie Chicks surprised even their own record label with the overwhelming popularity of their first album but went further-- the band produced Fly, in August, 1999, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard 200 charts selling over 10 million copies, and making the Dixie Chicks the only female group in history to have earned two rare RIAA certified diamond albums. As of 2008, Wide Open Spaces has sold more than 30.5 million copies making it a quadruple platium album. With Fly, both albums have ranked so high in sales that the Dixie Chicks are not only the highest selling female band in U.S. history, but they have albums that have continued to place in the list of the 50 best-selling albums in American history, over a half-decade after they were released. Fly again won Grammy awards and honors from the Country Music Association and the Academy of Country Music, and a humbling amount of honors from a variety of other sources for their accomplishments. The band headlined their first tour in 1999, (the Fly tour), showcasing other musicians at each show, including Ricky Skaggs and Joe Ely, and in addition, they joined Sarah McLachlan, Sheryl Crow, and other female artists on the all-woman touring Lilith Fair, which Maguire later described as a very supportive experience.
After the commercial success of their first two albums, the band became involved in a dispute with their record label, Sony, regarding accounting procedures, alleging that in at least 30 cases Sony had used fraudulent accounting practices, underpaying them at least $4 million dollars (£2.7m) in royalties on their albums over the previous three years. Sony held out, and the trio walked away, with Sony suing the group for failure to complete their contract. The Chicks responded with their own $4.1 million dollar lawsuit against Sony Music Entertainment on August 27th, which added
clout to claims made by rockers Courtney Love and Aimee Mann as well as LeAnn Rimes against the recording industry. After months of negotiation, the Chicks settled their suit privately, and were awarded their own record label imprint, "Open Wide Records" which afforded them more control, a better contract, and an increase in royalty money, with Sony still responsible for marketing and distribution of albums.
"I don't think any of us ever trusted Nashville. When you're in that town you know everybody is talking about everybody else. Everybody is wishing for the other guy to fail." -- Martie Maguire, to The Los Angeles Times, 5/21/06
While the Chicks wrangled with Sony, they wrote songs that were reminiscent of their roots; songs increasingly up-tempo, with less emphasis on drums. Home features two songs from folksinger Patty Griffin, and Emmylou Harris contributed vocals to one of the songs. Lloyd Maines had produced records for a diverse group of other artists, from David Byrne to the Lost Gonzo Band, lending a relaxed partnership between Maines and the Dixie Chicks in producing the album Home with him. Again, their album won Grammy awards, and other noteworthy accolades as before, although it fell short of reaching the diamond record status of the first two albums. Natalie Maines said afterward, "I want to check the record books and see how many fathers and daughters have won Grammys together." By 2002, the Dixie Chicks were featured on two television specials: An Evening with the Dixie Chicks which was a compilation of their first tours, and a CMT three hour television special, the 40 Greatest Women of Country Music. Ranked #13 out of 40, they were "selected by hundreds of artists, music historians, music journalists and music industry professionals -- looking at every aspect of what a great artist is.."
The tour that followed the release of Home was named after a song on the album, "Top of the World", composed by Patty Griffin, but it also was a high point for the Dixie Chicks. As soon as they had negotiated a new contract with their label, and had received their own label imprint, Home was released, with Top of the World Tour: Live and a follow-up DVD released in 2003. Early 2003 brought another boost of exposure for the Chicks, as they performed the "Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl.
Maguire had begun writing and recording songs as early as the original "foursome" version of the Dixie Chicks, on their debut independent album, Thank Heavens for Dale Evans; and in 2001, one song, co-written with Laura Lynch called "Pink Toenails" resurfaced. The song was featured in the film, Don't Say A Word, with Skye McCole Bartusiak performing the number. Maguire co-wrote the song, "Cowboy Take Me Away", recorded on the current Dixie Chicks sophomore studio album Fly for her sister Emily, during her courtship to country music singer Charlie Robison. Emily subsequently married, changing her name to Emily Robison in 1999. Maguire was singled out by BMI in 2000, and awarded Songwriter of the Year for writing and/or co-writing "Cowboy Take Me Away," "Ready To Run" and "You Were Mine"; the last being co-written with Robison, about their parent's divorce.
In 1999, the Dixie Chicks performed two songs, recording a cover of the song, You Can't Hurry Love as well as Maguire's "Ready to Run" for the film Runaway Bride, starring Richard Gere and Julia Roberts. In 2003, Maguire was nominated for a Tony Award for co-composing the film score to Urban Cowboy; the musical, using the song she had co-written, "Cowboy Take Me Away". In addition, Maguire played fiddle on the song, " Somewhere Down The Road" on Deryl Dodd's debut album.
Although Maguire and Robison often appear quiet and demure compared to their animated bandmate Natalie Maines, the trio have stood united on controversial subjects since they banded together to play in 1995, even when their opinions have had the potential to serve them more harm than good. One reviewer from the BBC has said that the history of this trio can be mapped out just as easily by watching their disputes as they can by following their discography. When Sony worried that their name might offend Northerners and Feminists, they refused to reconsider. On their album, Fly, they performed a few songs that raised eyebrows within their conservative country music fan base. Both "Sin Wagon", from which the term "mattress dancing" takes on a new twist, and "Goodbye Earl," a song that uses black comedy in telling the story of the unabashed murder of an abusive husband caused some radio stations to remove them from their playlists, but the group has been consistently unapologetic. In 2005, the Chicks joined 31 other recording artists, including such diverse artists as Dolly Parton, Christina Aguilera, Yoko Ono, and Mandy Moore amongst others, supporting relationships of all kinds, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity on a double disk release entitled, Love Rocks, with their song from the album Home called, "I Believe In Love".
Some of the largest (and most personal) examples that have made the Dixie Chicks so controversial, however, include Maguire and Robison's support of Maines' 2003 criticism of United States President George W. Bush's choice of a pre-emptive strike on Iraq, which lost the band an estimated half of their audience in the United States. That same anti-war position also led the American Red Cross to refuse a donation of $1,000,000.00 because of their controversial political standing. Other concerns include controversy (particularly between some Christian sects) in the Southern bible belt concerning IVF, (both Maguire and Robison were unable to conceive without it), support for stem cell research (all three women have had grandparents suffering from alzheimers; Maines co-wrote a song called "Silent House" with Neil Finn of Crowded House about her grandmother's memory loss), and the band's support for liberal causes, including those for Gay and Lesbian rights. Each of these issues have erupted in controversy of on one level or another, often moving them a bit further from their original fan base, but all three agree that they prefer to have an audience who appreciate them for who they are, and are unwilling to mince words just for financial gain. For instance, in a 2006 issue of Time Magazine, Maguire said, "I'd rather have a smaller following of really cool people who get it, who will grow with us as we grow and are fans for life, than people that have us in their five-disc changer with Reba McEntire and Toby Keith. We don't want those kinds of fans. They limit what you can do."
See also: Dixie Chicks political controversy
Martie married pharmaceutical representative Ted Seidel on June 17, 1995, and changed her surname to his, becoming Martie Seidel, as well as the stepmother to his son, Carter. Brad Paisley emerged as a new country music singer who co-wrote a song about child watching as his mother kept being rejected by her dates because she had a child, and the gratitude the boy felt to the man who was able to care for them both. Martie wrote to tell him she was moved both because she was now a stepmother, and had a stepfather as well. The song was called,"He Didn't Have to Be," and Maguire joined him in performing it onstage in a concert on a CMT showcase program, "On The Verge", saying the song "struck a chord" in her". However, her marriage did not last, and she and Ted Seidel were divorced in November, 1999.
At bandmate Natalie Maines' sister Kim's wedding Martie met Gareth Maguire, a Roman Catholic teacher and actor from Northern Ireland. The couple became engaged in June, 2001, and married August 10, 2001, in a civil ceremony in Hawaii. Later they had a Catholic "blessing" ceremony in the groom's hometown, Carnlough in County Antrim, Ireland, on March 9, 2002, for all the guests that were not able to attend the first wedding. She said of the ceremony that the Catholic Church would not permit a wedding service due to her prior divorce. Maguire says ruefully that there were so many "special" people that they'd wanted to include, but that they just couldn't wait to marry. Part of the reason for the rush was Gareth's need to keep flying back and forth because of visa considerations. After her marriage, Martie changed her name to that of her new husband, which is why in her musical career she has had the surnames of Erwin, Seidel, and now, Maguire.
In a strange turn of fate, all three bandmates are related. Because Martie and Emily are sisters, and Natalie Maines' sister Kim Maines married Shane Maguire, who is the brother of Gareth Maguire, Martie's husband, Natalie became sister-in-law by marriage to Martie.
Martie and Gareth have three daughters: fraternal twins Eva Ruth and Kathleen 'Katie' Emilie, born April 27, 2004, and third daughter, Harper Rosie Maguire, born July 25, 2008.
Maguire has been frank about using invitro fertilization to conceive their twins. In an interview in Conceive Magazine, she said, "All my paperwork said 'unspecified origin'. We spent three years of active trying before we went to IVF. First I went on Clomid. Then I had some dye tests and found I had a collapsed tube, so I had laparoscopic surgery; the tube wasn't blocked, just spasming." After three attempts at intrauterine insemination, she said, she and her husband didn't think it was worth continuing in that manner, and switched to IVF.Weinhouse,, Beth (Fall 2007). "The Dixie Chicks: Taking the Long Way... to Motherhood". Conceive Magazine Online. Retrieved on 2008-07-27.</ref> In August 2007, Maguire began IVF again, resulting in their third daughter Harper.
Regarding the number of children the Dixie Chicks have produced in the past seven years, (Maines has two and Robison has three in addition to Maguire's twins and newborn) Maguire told People Magazine, "We'll have to move over and let the little chicks take over! We've got a new band!"
Maguire and Robison co-wrote a song, "So Hard", about their own personal experiences with infertility and their need to rely on other methods to conceive. They speak out about the difficulties they faced, but also their good fortune; both having options that for many women are financially prohibitive. Mentioning the stigma attached to IVF, Magurie said, "I think we feel a responsibility to break down some barriers. It's much more of a common problem than people realize." A final concern Maguire mentioned was the question of what to do with all the unused frozen embryos. "Now that I have children, I see those embryos as possible children. So I have to think about what my options are if there are leftovers again. I could keep them in storage, and maybe they will help my children some day. Or I can try to donate them to stem cell research. I don't think I could give them to another family," she admits. "I would always worry: what if it's an abusive family? What if they don't get enough love?"
The Dixie Chicks have supported a variety of causes, which include environmental issues, GLBT rights, political activism, Rock the Vote, PBS appearances and collaborations with other musicians to help raise money for charity after Hurricane Katrina, and other issues. In 2001, the band joined other celebrities performing live on a commercial-free television collaboration of ABC, CBS, FOX and NBC television networks simulcast, in a program titled America: A Tribute to Heroes, to raise money after the September 11, 2001 attacks, with the money, royalties, and a subsequent DVD and CD being released to raise money for victims in need. In 2007, the Dixie Chicks began to actively support Conservation International, an organization seeking to educate and implement change on both a grassroots and corporate level to slow global warming. They posted information on their website, asking for public support.
Further information: Dixie Chicks#Awards
See also: Dixie Chicks discography << Less Bio
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