Emily Strayer

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photo by Mark Seliger

A Little About Emily
Name: Emily Burns Strayer
Born: August 16,1972 in Pittsfield, MA
Home: San Antonio, Texas
Husband: Martin Strayer IV (m. April 22,2013)
Children: Charles Augustus "Gus" Robison (November 11, 2002), Julianna Tex and Henry Benjamin Robison (April 14th, 2005), Violet Isabel Strayer (September 4, 2012)
Eye Color: brown
Height: 5' 9"
Earlier Band: Blue Night Express
Opry Debut: in 1991 (with former Dixie Chicks)
Most Embarrassing Moment: "When my tube top came down on stage during a banjo solo - in front of 20 thousand people!"
Pet Peeve: Bad drivers
Favorite Dixie Chicks Song To Perform: Cowboy Take Me Away and Sin Wagon
Emily began playing violin at age 7, then banjo at the age of 10, with dobro and other acoustic instruments to follow. Emily and Martie toured the country together in a teen's bluegrass group for six years before helping to found Dixie Chicks. Emily learned to play the banjo by teaching herself the chord progessions by reading the books.
Emily's Instruments

Banjo: acoustic RB-4 and RB-250, electric Nechville Meteor
Dobro: Scheerhorn squareneck, Gibson 60-D squareneck 
Acoustic guitar: Taylor 714ce,  Gibson J-45
Papoose guitar: Tacoma P1
Accordian: Gabbanelli

Interview by Nina Malkin

Were you and Martie rich kids?
Dad was a headmaster at a private school and Mom taught at another private school, so we were able to go to private school. We were around a lot of people who had a lot of money but we didn't. We did get an excellent education, though.

So what drew you to bluegrass music?
Our mom was a classical violinist but our dad was a real country music fan; he loved all the old stuff.

How did you get into playing music?
It was a given in our family that you would pick up an instrument at around age five. Martie really took off with the violin. When we started going to bluegrass festivals and I saw the banjo, it seemed like a real rebellious thing to me -- why would a girl want to pick up the banjo?!

Most kids rebel with rock and roll. Were you ever a rock chick?
I loved everything that was on the radio, like Madonna. It was bizarre how the two worlds meshed: I had a picture of [80s alternapop star] Adam Ant on my wall next to a picture of the hottest bluegrass banjo picker at the time.

Were you surprised by the success of "Wide Open Spaces"?
I had the fear of, "Oh, three blondes playing music -- are they going to write us off?"

What's your style?
I'm a girly-girl to the full extent, but I don't like to be that way all the time. When I'm on stage, it's the part of me that likes to be flashy and fun - everything you wouldn't be caught dead in walking down the street. I love Anna Sui, Cynthia Rowley, Todd Oldham. I don't dress like that when I'm alone.

What kind of an affect do you want to have on the young people in your audience?
We want to inspire young people to pick up instruments -- it's such a fun thing to do and you can do for the rest of your life. As for the female aspect, we are, as instrumentalists, pretty much in a man's world. But we hope that there will be girls who'll want to pick up instruments like we did.

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