The Greenhill School Alumni Association has named sisters Martha (Martie) Erwin Maguire `88 and Emily Erwin Robison `91 as the 2013 recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award for their outstanding career in the music industry.
The award honors graduates whose outstanding character, accomplishments, and service embody characteristics and spirit of Greenhill’s mission of service and leadership in our diverse global society.
Maguire and Robison’s musical career started during their years at Greenhill School. Not only did the girls have vocal talent, but they both played a variety of instruments. Maguire played the violin, mandolin and viola, while Robison’s talents included the ability to play five-stringed banjo and dobro. Maguire signed on to her first band, Blue Night Express, at the age of 12, and was joined by ten-year-old Robison a couple of years later. Their mother, Barbara Trask, a Greenhill English teacher for 25 years, and father, Paul Erwin, supported the pre-teen prodigies, driving them from festival to festival, providing performance experience, but also giving them exposure to a number of different bands and musical styles.
“The supportive environment at Greenhill was the ideal place for us during the early part of our career,” said Robison. “Our teachers always encouraged us to pursue our passions, both in the classroom and off-campus.”
“I taught both girls in Greenhill Singers, the choir, all four years they were in Upper School,” said Michael Manes, Head of Fine Arts. “They were typical Greenhill students, active in arts and athletics, as well as academically talented. I am incredibly proud of what they have accomplished in their careers.”
Shortly after Maguire’s graduation from Greenhill, the girls formed the well-known band, the Chicks (formerly The Dixie Chicks), providing instrumental and vocal accompaniment. During the late 1990s, the band started seeing commercial success with songs like “Wide Open Spaces.” Their success continued throughout the 2000s, and reached a peak when their 2007 album Taking the Long Way won album, record, and song of the year at the Grammys. In total, the band released seven albums, received 13 Grammy Awards and they hold the distinction of being the only country group and the only female group to earn back-to-back Diamond Awards for selling 10 million albums.
In 2010, Maguire and Robison decided to enter center stage together by forming the group Court Yard Hounds. For the first time, both Maguire and Robison sing lead vocals in addition to playing a variety of instruments on the tracks. The band plans to release their second album, Amelita on July 16, 2013.
“I remember hearing Martie and Emily perform on the Greenhill quad,” said Mark Platt ’87, Greenhill Alumni Board President. “I know I speak for all my classmates when I say that their success is an incredible source of pride for the alumni community.”
“Martie and Emily’s musical accomplishments are clearly an indication of the power of hard work combined with amazing talent,” said Greenhill Head of School Scott Griggs. “They truly embody the spirit of Greenhill and it is an honor to have them as Distinguished Alumni.”
Maguire and Robison were recognized at Greenhill’s 62nd annual commencement ceremony at the Meyerson Symphony Center on June 5, 2013. They celebrated with their classmates and teachers at a private reception following the graduation.