Cited by Billboard magazine as a “truly venturesome, genre-transcending pathfinder,” Birmingham, Alabama, native Emmylou Harris is hailed by peers and fans as an iconic figure in several of America’s most important musical movements. For more than three decades, Harris has effortlessly traversed genres that include country, folk, country-rock, bluegrass, pop, and alternative. She also has lent her voice to social activist causes focused primarily on animal treatment and the eradication of landmines.
Born in Birmingham and raised in North Carolina and Virginia, Harris was inspired by the music of Joan Baez, Bob Dylan, Pete Seeger, and Judy Collins. Her big break came in 1972 when she partnered with country-rock pioneer Gram Parsons. After his death in 1973, Harris emerged as a solo artist, uniting rock audiences with country traditionalists and making country-rock “hip” for a younger generation.
With albums like Roses in the Snow, Evangeline, and Bluebird, Harris became one of country music’s authentic voices and helped bring about a bluegrass revival during the 1980s. Transforming her style yet again, she expanded her boundaries in the 1990s with the Grammy-winning album Wrecking Ball and assumed a leading role in the Americana musical revolution.
While Harris continued to reap praise as a musical artist and song connoisseur, an unknown talent lay smoldering beneath the surface until the 2000 release of Red Dirt Girl, another Grammy-winning album. This, and its follow-up recording, Stumble into Grace, revealed her remarkable ability as a songwriter.
Considered one of contemporary music’s most admired and influential women, Harris’s expansive repertoire is matched only by the wide array of artists who have sought to collaborate with her, such as Johnny Cash, Tammy Wynette, Neil Young, Roy Orbison, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Garth Brooks, and Bonnie Raitt. Stars like Rodney Crowell and Ricky Skaggs have emerged from the ranks of her bands.
Harris’s numerous achievements and professional recognitions include album sales in excess of $15 million, 12 Grammy Awards, Billboard magazine’s Century Award, and induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has received widespread acclaim from critics and the public for the unfaltering quality of her musical choices. Perhaps, most notable, however, is simply her “beautifully crystalline voice” which The New York Times says, “inhabits her songs like a wraith, intangible but omnipresent.”
Emmylou Harris’s 26th studio album, Old Yellow Moon, is in collaboration with longtime friend and former Hot Band member, Rodney Crowell. Recently they took home duo/group and album of the year honors at the prestigious Americana Music Honors & Awards. She is a member of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and remains well-known for her social activism and philanthropy, including Bonaparte’s Retreat, the dog rescue she started in 2004.