Court Yard HoundsThey're a couple of Dixie Chicks ... and now they're a couple of Court Yard Hounds. But sisters Martie Maguire and Emily Robison insist that doesn't mean they're about to dismantle their beloved Chicks.

"I think the elephant in the room for people is always, 'Well, what's going on with the Chicks?" Emily tells GAC. "When that presents itself, we'll figure out how to marry the two. Natalie [Maines] will be the first one to tell you that she's very supportive; she just doesn't want to be in the studio and going through the whole process right now."

Which is totally opposite of the emotions the sisters have been dealing with the past few years, since the Chicks went on hiatus.

"When Natalie first wanted to take a break, I remember this real fear in me, like ... when are we getting back on the road? This is what I know! What will I do? I don't have a college degree!" Martie reflects with a laugh.

Looking back, Martie remembers the comfort she and Emily always felt just to be onstage, playing back-up to Natalie's lead vocals ... and now the unexpected discovery of a whole other side of themselves onstage.

"There was always comfort in the power of numbers," she explains. "Emily and I have that kind of personality where we're happy to support and happy to not be the center of attention. It's a different story than you hear from a lot of lead singers who say, 'Oh, I used to get up on the table when I was two and belt out songs!' We were very reluctant at a young age. So with this album, it was nice to discover that we had this other side to us that came pretty easily. Every day our confidence grew."

Sitting on the sidelines of country music the past few years has been frustrating for Emily and Martie. But now that they're out there -- center stage -- these sisters want it all!

"Martie and I love to work and create and be making something, so being off was difficult for us," says Emily. "Just to be able to fulfill that and not have to dismantle the Dixie Chicks -- why can't we do both? We're going to push to make it a complete entity, and have fun with it!"

The Court Yard Hounds intimate pop-folk album features Emily on lead vocals for the first time, on songs she was inspired to write following her divorce from singer/songwriter Charlie Robison. The new duo will take the stage for the first time at South by Southwest in March. Their debut album drops in May, with a tour to follow.

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