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By Claire Connors
Redbook - October 2002

3 women ... 5 marriages ... 2 babies ... and gazillions of records sold. The divas share their incredible story - and the one thing that's kept them sane and bonded on their wild ride to success.

High up in a glamorous hotel in New York, the four-time Grammy-award-winning, multi-platinum-album-selling Dixie Chicks are getting their hair blow-dried, their nails painted, and their noses powdered for the taping of an upcoming television show about their lives. Slade, Natalie Maines's 20-month-old son with husband actor Adrian Pasdar (Pax-TV's Mysterious Ways), runs around the room, charming everyone in his path.

While waiting for their turns in front of the camera, Emily Robison, 30 and five months pregnant, her sister Martie Maguire, 32, and Natalie, 27, talk excitedly about being the subjects of a biography show so early in their lives. "We're so young," says Natalie. "There isn't really a story there. I wish there were; then we could write great songs!"

Surely she jests. Take the lives of these women and you have the makings of a great country song. Love, marriage, heartache, divorce, more marriage, more heartache, another divorce, trying to make a baby, making babies, and, finally, happy endings. All of this while building a successful music career.

Emily and Marite, who've played bluegrass practically since birth, formed the Dixie Chicks in 1989 with Robin Macy and Laura Lynch. When Macy and Lynch left the band, Emily and Martie's friend and mentor Lloyd Maines gave them a tape of his daughter, Natalie, singing. It was love at first listen. The Chicks clicked, and in 1995 they arrived. Their first two albums, Wide Open Spaces and Fly, each sold more than 20 million copies.

Their careers were rocking until they filed a suit against Sony, claiming the record label had cheated them out of money; Sony countersued. "It was an emotional and financial drain," admits Natalie. "But eventually the suit was settled; the outcome was positive."

The Texas trio has just released their third CD, Home, and are planning a spring tour. Whew. Even Natalie must admit that despite their ages, they've had their share of major life events.

You three have had almost as many marriages and divorces as Liz Taylor.

NATALIE First Martie got married. Then me. Then I filed for divorce. Then Emily got engaged. Martie filed for divorce. Emily got married. I remarried; then Martie remarried. And I said that we have no baggage! But we're happy now.

You've got Slade; Emily's pregnant ...

NATALIE And Martie is trying.

How did you all meet your husbands?

EMILY I met Charlie [Robison] four years ago at a concert. We were engaged after two months and married nine months later.

MARTIE The first time I saw Gareth [Maguire], we were playing in Dublin. Kim, Natalie's sister, was there with her boyfriend, Gareth's brother [who brought Gareth with him]. I walked by Gareth and thought, "Hmm, cute guy." Then at Kim's wedding in Austin [Texas], we totally hit it off. But he had a girlfriend in England, and another girl with him at the wedding, so he had to break up with a bunch of girls before we could get together. [Laughs]

Natalie, you met Adrian at Emily's wedding. You were a bridesmade and he was your escort?

NATALIE He was supposed to be at the rehearsal dinner [but his car broke down]. I felt kind of disappointed. He claims the first thing I said to him the next day was "You're late." What I said was "We missed you last night." We were together a little over a year; then we got married.

Why do you think that your first marriages didn't work out?

MARTIE Our dad went into rehab when I was in high school. All those Al-Anon and Children of Alcoholics classes made me want to marry the opposite of my dad. I was so focused on that that I didn't follow my heart. I'm creative and artistic, and I have to do things that way.

How long were you married?

MARTIE Four years. The most traumatic part of the split was [its effect on] my stepson. I didn't work during the week, so I watched him. We really bonded. But my ex and I get along, so I'm kind of like his son's aunt now.

What about you, Natalie?

NATALIE I was just too young. I was 22. I thought I knew him and other people didn't. Instead I should have listened to everyone. So once I got successful and gained confidence, I realized I'd rather be alone than with him. It was sort of like I got married just to check it off the to-do list. Isn't that weird?

It wasn't dramatic when you separated?

NATALIE It wasn't heartache. It was "Woo-hoo! Liberation!"

MARTIE When Natalie told me she wanted a divorce, I started crying because I wanted a divorce too, but I thought, "We can't both divorce our husbands. That's so dysfunctional!"

Did you help each other through this?

NATALIE Martie went through a hard time; she went to counseling to try to make her marriage work. We talked a lot in that time about relationships.

MARTIE I probably leaned on Natalie more than my own sister. We were touring [in 1998 and 1999] and were in bunks [on the bus], and mine was across from Natalie's, and we'd pull back the curtains and talk for hours.

NATALIE Emily was planning her wedding, so we didn't want to be negative or let her head us talking, because ...

EMILY ... it would have ruined my buzz? I appreciated that. But I felt like "You can talk to me, too." But I understand. I was in a different world.

How do you handle upsetting situations?

NATALIE I stay quiet and pray it's not true. [Laughs] Yeah, I'm in denial.

EMILY When our parents divorced, it hit me and Martie completely differently. I compartmentalize a lot more easily than she does. I'm a very private mourner. I've always been that way.

MARTIE Gareth is a look-on-the-bright-side guy. He lost his sister in a car crash; it was horrible. He taught me that no matter what's going on, you can still be happy if you don't let it get you down. I've adopted his philosophy.

Natalie, you're the first to have a baby. What are some of the challenges you're facing now that you didn't expect?

NATALIE Everyone says, "Your life will never be the same." And you think they mean you won't get as much sleep and you'll be changing diapers. But I've found the way I perceive things is completely different. Having a child is the best thing in the world. But it's weird to think "I'm forever a mother."

What's hardest for you right now? Being a mom? Being in a band? Being a wife?

NATALIE The balance of fame and privacy. Like, I'm not going to talk in depth about my relationship or go into how in love I am. I'm sick of seeing that on TV and then a week later [the couple is] divorced. How sad. It's new that someone has gotten a divorce. People's cover has Paul McCartney's wedding and J.Lo's divorce. I'm so jaded.

What do you want to say about your relationship with Adrian?

NATALIE I met the person I want to spend the rest of my life working on a relationship with. And it's work. I'm changing; he changed when he became a father. Ultimately we want to do everything we can to make this work.

Now that you have Slade, how do you two keep the romance hot?

NATALIE Whenever we go on a date, we inevitably spend the whole time wondering what Slade is doing. But we go out once a week; my mom and dad take [Slade] for the night. We used to see a ton of movies. Our anniversary is next week, and he asked, "Do you want to go to Las Vegas?" And I said, "Let's see a movie." Because I never get to do that anymore.

Is Adrian romantic?

NATALIE Very. He surprised me by showing up when we perform. And he's very passionate. But now we get into bed at night and ... [Snores]

Well, it's hard. You have a kid!

NATALIE I was a morning-sex person. Now by 7:30 [a.m.] Slade's between us. [Laughs] We're trying to figure that out now.

Emily, you're next to have a baby.

EMILY I wasn't sure if I wanted to talk about this, but I feel I have an obligation. My husband and I did in vitro; my biggest fear is the ol' switcheroo! It was a long process. I was artifically [inseminated] first; then, when that wasn't working, I had surgery, which sucked. Then when you start actively trying in vitro, it's a roller coaster.

Because of the hormone shots?

EMILY I'm certainly not afraid of shots anymore. [Laughs] I've blown out two veins. [I scarred] wherever they put the needle in. I'd be a bad drug addict!

Did you retrieve eggs for future kids?

EMILY I have a freezer full, so hopefully I won't have to go through the drug or retrieval part again, which is a drag.

Some women who go through in vitro complain that sex gets clinical.

EMILY At first we were like, "Hey, honey, let's get pregnant the natural way." But even that started to become work. Once you make it clinical, it gets even worse.

What's your idea of a romantic date now?

EMILY The perfect date is playing with our dogs or going to the ranch-supply store. I love tractors!

Tractors are sexy! Martie, you're a newlywed and probably still really romantic.

MARTIE Gareth's very romantic. When we were dating, he wrote me long love letters. He's very poetic. And his hand-writing is amazing. It's like art.

Is your biological clock ticking?

MARTIE We've been trying since before we married! We were going to cause an uproar in the family. He's from a family of six kids, and I have three stepbrothers, a stepsister, and two real sisters. I really want to have a baby. If I can't, I'll adopt. There are options.

Are there special challenges for women in the music industry raising families?

EMILY I think the biggest challenge right now is, you're too fat to be on camera! You have the baby and it takes a couple of months to recover. We all are into families, so we just have to make it work.

Speaking of looking fat, there's a lot of pressure to look thin and gorgeous. How are you all handling that?

NATALIE [I] try to get thin and gorgeous! [Laughs] I gained 63 pounds with Slade, and I've lost 55, but it hasn't been easy.

What's your routine?

NATALIE I've done everything. I've done the Zone Diet, I've done Atkins. And the whole time, I worked out. On tour I did yoga. I'd lose more weight if I did more yoga, which is the hardest exercise I've tried. Not only did I lose weight, but my hip narrowed, my arms got small.

Emily, are you exercising to stay in shape during your pregnancy?

EMILY Even before I got pregnant, I started prepping. I swim and I walk.

How do you stay so slim, Martie?

MARTIE I definitely have to try. I can't eat a lot of sugar; I try not to have carbonated drinks. But anything else goes, including greasy fries and hamburgers.

What are you doing for exercise?

MARTIE Gareth and I found something we both like. We walk this five-mile loop around Lake Austin [in Austin].

This year was challenging for you as a group. You sued your record label for $4 million, and then they countersued for $100 million for breach of contract.

NATALIE We tried to do something positive for the industry, because the way it's structured sucks. But we weren't going to stay in our contract the way it was. We made them $200 million. Why didn't they pay us already?

Is the suit settled now?

MARTIE Yes. I feel if we hadn't gone through the litigation, we wouldn't be where we are today.

Are the three of you all best friends?

MARTIE Our relationship is like marriage. Emily's the dad; she makes the best business decisions. I'm the mom; I worry and clean up the messes. And Natalie's the obnoxious teen. If it gets quiet, she always had a joke.

What's best about being a Dixie Chick?

NATALIE If you make mistakes, you can blame each other. When you succeed, you can celebrate together. And there's no stress, because if we all think it's the right decision, then we go forward.

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