Raised in Southlake, Texas- a suburb of Dallas Texas, Sharon Gilchrist started playing the mandolin at the age of four. When she was nine years old, she and her older brother, guitarist Troy and friends; Martie Erwin and her younger sister, Emily Erwin, formed a teenage bluegrass band they named "Blue Night Express". Over the next five to six years, Blue Night Express played as a full-time band while the Erwin sisters were still attending private Greenhill School, in nearby Addison, (Sharon attended Carroll High School in Southlake TX.). They appeared with such bluegrass performers as Bill Monroe, Ralph Stanley, Del McCoury, and New Grass Revival. Upon graduation from high school, though, the Erwin sisters teamed up with Robin Lynn Macy and Laura Lynch, two older women they had met over the years forming the first lineup of a new band named the Dixie Chicks. (The Erwin sisters each married many years later, taking the names Martie Seidel (from a short-lived marriage), and then, Martie Maguire and Emily Robison).