Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Carrie Underwood have all found success in the last few years by taking their brand of country and crossing it into pop music. They’ve gotten bashed for it by some fans, but that’s hardly a new phenomenon.
Court Yard Hounds — the duo of Martie Maguire and Emily Robison — has certainly seen it before when their primary band, the Dixie Chicks, was at its commercial peak. And they’re sort of encouraged by the controversy.
“To me there’s always been that pop vs. country thing,” Martie told Spinner. “When we were coming up in the ranks, Shania Twain had No. 1 hits. I remember her being so criticized and so beloved at the same time and thinking that struggle is good. Country music has always tried to survive, and they tend to hold on tightly to their own. And I understand that — especially coming from bluegrass music. When we were a bluegrass band and we got electric bass, whoa! Hate mail! There were festivals where you couldn’t plug in. They would not hire a band that were electrified in any way. So that’s always been there.”
The new Court Yard Hounds album has enough pop influences on it that it never appeared on the Billboard Country Albums chart. In the meantime, there is no firm timeline for when a new Chicks album might appear.
“When you’re coming off five Grammys and an album that was so packed with emotion for us and was such a statement, it’s kind of hard to find that next thing to say as the Dixie Chicks,” Martie noted. “So I think we’re waiting on that, and it will present itself at some point. Then we’ll go back in and do something. But until that time, we’re not willing to force it.”
For now, the Hounds have touring on their minds. They’re slated to appear on eight of the remaining Lilith Fair dates, beginning with a July 15 show in Kansas City. Among the other acts who’ll share the stage with them during the moving festival: Emmylou Harris, Mary J. Blige, Heart, Suzanne Vega, Miranda Lambert and Lilith Fair organizer Sarah McLachlan.