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Sweethearts Of The Rodeo

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In the spring of 1986, Sweethearts of the Rodeo took country music by storm. Although the Sweethearts, sisters Janis Gill and Kristine Arnold, worked nearly 20 years for their "overnight" success, when it finally hit, it was, as Janis recalls, "like a jet plane taking off--with us hanging onto the wings for dear life!"

With their first two albums spawning seven consecutive top 10 hits, the Sweethearts filled the country airwaves for most of the latter '80s with classics like "Midnight Girl/Sunset Town," "Chains of Gold," "Satisfy You" and "Blue to the Bone."

But the Sweethearts' glittering success had an adverse side that gradually began to show. While they coped for a while with the pressures of recording, touring, and the constant self-promotion that's required to stay on top, Janis and Kristine began to find themselves boxed into the sound and image that had worked so well for them.

"Our original goal had been to just record an album some day," Janis explains. "We achieved so much more than that, we couldn't complain. By the time of our third album, Buffalo Zone, we were starting to scratch our heads and wonder just what we were doing and it if was all worth it."

"We went through the whole range of negative emotions: fear, anger, sadness, desperation," says Kristine. "We almost broke up at one point. Being sisters helped us weather that and continue to believe in what we do, because once we got through all the despair, we began to realize that there's a whole lot more to our music than just hit radio records. We resurfaced and realized there's another whole world of music that has nothing to do with any of that, and that's what we decided to pursue."

What the Sweethearts resurfaced with was a new record label, Sugar Hill, and a creative freedom unlike anything they had ever known before. Instead of reinventing themselves for their Sugar Hill debut, Rodeo Waltz, they returned to their roots. Janis, who also produced Rodeo Waltz, and Kristine surrounded themselves with some of the finest players in bluegrass and acoustic music and the ensemble found an immediate rapport.

Still maintaining their strong fan base from years at the top of the country charts, the Sweethearts tour with a small acoustic band and perform duo dates that include both their newer repertoire and acoustic re-workings of their chart hits. Through it all, with both their families still strong and intact, they've also established their own stylish and successful store with the fitting name Gill & Arnold. Now, although they've never really been away (just busy in other areas), the Sweethearts are definitely back--and back with a vengeance!

On their new Sugar Hill album, Beautiful Lies, Janis again assumed the role of producer and proved that, if she ever tires of being a sing star or running her own fashion empire, she can definitely have a successful career as a producer. Beautiful Lies is chock full of beautiful and unforgettable material featuring the sisters' soulful singing and flawless harmonies on songs written by top names in Nashville--including Janis and Vince Gill, Don Schlitz, Pam Tillis, John Leventhal, and Jim Lauderdale.

With a sure sense of who they are as people and performers, the Sweethearts of the Rodeo remain solid both in where they stand and where they're going. "We've been doing this for a long, long time, and there's a lot of heart, hard work and dedication that's gone into it." Janis concludes. "We feel like we've earned respect as musicians and singers, and proved our longevity, and we plan on being around and making records for a long time to come."

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