August 16

How Emmylou Harris Created Her Place in Country Music

” He made me really see the subtleties on it and the poetry in it, and singing with him really taught me how to sing. There’s something about the restraint and the economy of the emotion that goes along with it..”
–Emmylou Harris on Gram Parson –

How Emmylou Harris Created Her Place in Country Music 1(source:

From the start she has always been our little ‘cover artist’ to the now dubbed ‘autobiographical singer.’ Picking what she’d learned from her mentor, Gram Parsons and her mature take on life, she became one of America’s celebrated song writers and singers.

Prior to that, she was not really in the loop for country. After a bitter divorce, she and her daughter moved to her parent’s home in Maryland. Her state of mind then was that of making a living through either waitressing or performing folk songs on various clubs. Although she’d done some country in those performances, she really did not think she had the talent for it nor was she interested in doing it. It was only until she became part of Gram Parson’s band, where she sung harmonies and did duets, that she discovered what to really do with her voice. Sadly, her collaboration with Gram was short-lived when he died in 1973 due to alcohol and drug overdose. Fortunately, earlier that year, they have made recordings for an album called “Grievous Angel” which was released in 1974.

In 1975, she debuted an album called “Pieces of the Sky” with cover versions of other artists’ songs like “For No One” by Beatles, “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down” by Merle Haggard, and “If I Could Only Win Your Love” by Louvin Brothers. That attracted and met Nashville standard, so she was given free rein to continue her work.

For 40 years, besides doing covers and duets with notable stars, her song writing skill also rose to heights with the successes of the songs she co-wrote for other artists. Naturally, she had received various awards for all her contributions.

Now 70, it seems Harris has no plans of slowing down. As was written by Michael Hill in her website bio, “The music, like life, will go on.”


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