Why Girl Groups Rule: Dixie Chicks/Court Yard Hounds' Emily Robison On Wrestling vs. Cat-Fighting

Kate Glicksberg
Court Yard Hounds, backstage at Lollapalooza 2013

On each day of Billboard.com's Girl Group Week, we'll be posting an interview with a member of an all-female musical artist about some of the finer points of being in a girl group. A lot of us listen to girl group songs, follow their dance moves and buy tickets to their shows -- but what's it like actually being a member of a girl group?

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After TLC's Chilli started things off yesterday, Tuesday (Apr. 29) continues with Emily Robison, a member of Dixie Chicks and Court Yard Hounds alongside her sister, Martie Maguire. Along with being part of one of the most successful country artists of all time, the 41-year-old Robison has displayed her incredible musicianship by playing banjo, bass, mandolin, accordion and various other instruments before taking the reins as a lead vocalist in Court Yard Hounds.

Billboard: You've basically always been a member of an all-female group. Did you always envision your career that way?

Robison: You know, I don't think I set out to have a career in female groups, but it's just kind of happened, and by nature of having worked with my sister -- growing up with a sister who also plays, and being in communication with other female musicians. The first incarnation of the Dixie Chicks played on the 'girl group' thing a little bit, where we were kitschy and cowgirl-y, and that worked for us at that stage of our career. But I enjoy female voices, I love singing with other female singers, and… I don't know. People put stock in someone being in a 'girl group,' but we don't say that a band is a 'man group.' I don't really know how it's different, other than that we communicate really well.

So many Dixie Chicks and Court Yard Hounds songs aim to empower women, and give females a voice in a genre that's especially male-dominated.

I was just noticing today how very few women are still on the country charts, and it's amazing to me that it's still so male-dominated. I do feel like, especially in a female group, you're singing from one perspective -- if I was in a group with a bunch of guys, we wouldn't necessarily be writing about the same things.

What are some of the biggest positives of being in an all-girl group?

I always like the band dynamic. You lift each other up, the division of labor is always nice, and I think different viewpoints make a stronger product. Writing by committee might take longer, but you get a better song a lot of the times. In the Chicks, we know each other so well that we can edit each other and be each other's sounding board.

And being on the road, I would be so lonely if I didn't have other females with me on the road. We eat together, we go out together, we shop together, we raise our kids together. It takes a village, I guess.

What's the biggest misconception about all-female groups?

One of the first questions people used to ask us was, "Do you fight?" I'm like, "Do you ask guy bands that?" Why do you have this image of women cat-fighting? We wrestle sometimes! But we don't fight.


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