Emmylou Harris

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Interesting facts and trivia about Emmylou Harris. By Songfacts®.

Emmylou Harris is a singer-songwriter and accomplished musician. She is known for her straightforward singing style, sharp ear for a good melody, and ability to bring out previously unheard beauty in her renditions of other musicians' songs. Harris's signature style combines talented guitar playing and singing with an earnest musical style that blends classic country, folk and rock influences.

Harris, born in 1947 to a southern military family, has lived in various parts of the US. She was class valedictorian at her Virginia high school. Her father was missing in action for ten months during the Korean War, a family experience Harris describes in her song "The Ship on His Arm." Harris has remained close with her parents throughout her life, bringing her daughter to live with them after her brief marriage to songwriter Tom Slocum ended in 1969.

She moved to New York City in the late 1960s, where she waitressed while performing in Greenwich Village. She would go on to win 12 Grammy Awards over the next fifty years. A sought-after collaborator, Harris has worked with artists from Roy Orbison to Neil Young, Dolly Parton to Linda Rondstadt.

Emmylou Harris's career includes many deft covers of other artists' songs, such as Townes Van Zandt's "Pancho and Lefty," "(You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie" by Chuck Berry, and "Mr. Sandman" by Pat Ballard, for which Harris was initially best-known. But a special relationship with a mentor expanded her confidence in her own songwriting abilities. Harris credits Gram Parsons with developing her as a musician and as a person: "I think you get to a certain point in your life where you do gaze back over the years and it's sort of a celebration or a thank-you for the fact that you cross paths with people who change you forever. Certainly Gram did that; I did come down walking in his shoes and trying to carry on for him. So I really just told that story the way I see it in my mind, the brief time we had and how I couldn't imagine that Gram wouldn't be around forever. Life goes on and unfolds before you, but those people and those events that change you forever are always with you. It was an important event that determined the trajectory of my life and, more than anything, of my work."


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