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Though other performers sold more records and earned greater fame, few had as profound an impact on contemporary music as Emmylou Harris. Blessed with a crystalline voice, a remarkable gift for phrasing, and a restless creative spirit, she traveled a singular artistic path, proudly carrying the torch of "cosmic American music" passed down by her mentor, Gram Parsons. With the exception of only Neil Young -- not surprisingly an occasional collaborator -- no other mainstream star established a similarly large body of work as consistently iconoclastic, eclectic, or daring; even more than four decades into her career, Harris' latter-day music remained as heartfelt, visionary, and vital as her earliest recordings.
Harris was born on April 2, 1947, to a military family stationed in Birmingham, Alabama. After spending much of her childhood in North Carolina, she moved to Woodbridge, Virginia while in her teens and graduated high school there as class valedictorian. After winning a dramatic scholarship to the University of North Carolina, she began to seriously study music, learning to play songs by Bob Dylan and Joan Baez. Soon, Harris was performing in a duo with fellow UNC student Mike Williams, eventually quitting school to move to New York, only to find the city's folk music community dying out in the wake of the psychedelic era.
Still, Harris remained in New York, traveling the Greenwich Village club circuit before becoming a regular at Gerdes Folk City, where she struck up friendships with fellow folkies Jerry Jeff Walker, David Bromberg, and Paul Siebel. After marrying songwriter Tom Slocum in 1969, she recorded her debut LP, 1970's Gliding Bird. Shortly after the record's release, however, Harris' label declared bankruptcy, and while pregnant with her first child, her marriage began to fall apart. After moving to Nashville, she and Slocum divorced, leaving Harris to raise daughter Hallie on her own. After several months of struggle and poverty, she moved back in with her parents, who had since bought a farm outside of Washington, D.C.
There she returned to performing, starting a trio with local musicians Gerry Mule and Tom Guidera. One evening in 1971, while playing at an area club called Clyde's, the trio performed to a crowd that included members of the country-rock pioneers the Flying Burrito Brothers. In the wake of the departure of Gram Parsons, the band's founder, the Burritos were led by ex-Byrd Chris Hillman, who was so impressed by Harris' talents that he considered inviting her to join the group. Instead, Hillman himself quit to join Stephen Stills' Manassas, but he recommended her to Parsons, who wanted a female vocalist to flesh out the sound of his solo work, a trailblazing fusion of country and rock & roll he dubbed "cosmic American music." Their connection was instant, and soon Harris was learning about country music and singing harmony on Parsons' solo debut, 1972's G.P. A tour with Parsons' backup unit, the Fallen Angels, followed, and in 1973 they returned to the studio to cut his landmark LP Grievous Angel.
On September 19, just weeks after the album sessions ended, Parsons' fondness for drugs and alcohol finally caught up to him, and he was found dead in a hotel room outside of the Joshua Tree National Monument in California. At the time, Harris was back in Washington, collecting her daughter for a planned move to the West Coast. Instead, she remained in D.C., reuniting with Tom Guidera to form the Angel Band. The group signed to Reprise and relocated to Los Angeles to begin work on Harris' major-label solo debut, 1975's acclaimed Pieces of the Sky, an impeccable collection made up largely of diverse covers ranging in origin from Merle Haggard to the Beatles. Produced by Brian Ahern, who would go on to helm Harris' next ten records -- as well as becoming her second husband -- Pieces of the Sky's second single, a rendition of the Louvin Brothers' "If I Could Only Win Your Love," became her first Top Five hit. "Light of the Stable," a Christmas single complete with backing vocals from Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Neil Young, soon followed; Harris then repaid the favor by singing on Ronstadt's "The Sweetest Gift" and Young's "Star of Bethlehem."
For her second LP, 1976's Elite Hotel, Harris established a new backing unit, the Hot Band, which featured legendary Elvis Presley sidemen James Burton and Glen D. Hardin as well as a young songwriter named Rodney Crowell on backup vocals and rhythm guitar. The resulting album proved to be a smash, with covers of Buck Owens' "Together Again" and the Patsy Cline perennial "Sweet Dreams" both topping the charts. Before beginning sessions for her third effort, 1977's Luxury Liner, Harris guested on Bob Dylan's Desire and appeared in Martin Scorsese's documentary of the Band's legendary final performance, The Last Waltz. Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town followed in 1978, led by the single "Two More Bottles of Wine," her third number one. The record was Crowell's last with the Hot Band; one of the tracks, "Green Rolling Hills," included backing from Ricky Skaggs, soon to become Crowell's replacement as Harris' vocal partner.
Released in 1979, Blue Kentucky Girl was her most country-oriented work to date, an indication of what was to come a year later with Roses in the Snow, a full-fledged excursion into acoustic bluegrass. In the summer of 1980, a duet with Roy Orbison, "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again," hit the Top Ten; a yuletide LP, Light of the Stable, followed at the end of the year. Shortly afterward, Harris quit touring to focus on raising her second daughter, Meghann. Evangeline, a patchwork of songs left off of previous albums, appeared in 1981. Shortly after, Skaggs left the Hot Band to embark on a solo career; his replacement was Barry Tashian, a singer/songwriter best known for fronting the 1960s rock band the Remains.
In 1982, drummer John Ware, the final holdover from the first Hot Band lineup, left the group; at the same time, Harris' marriage to Ahern was also beginning to disintegrate. After 1981's Cimarron, Harris and the Hot Band cut a live album, Last Date, named in honor of the album's chart-topping single "(Lost His Love) On Our Last Date," a vocal version of the Floyd Cramer instrumental. Quickly, they returned to the studio to record White Shoes, Harris' final LP with Ahern at the helm. Her most far-ranging affair yet, it included covers of Donna Summer's "On the Radio," Johnny Ace's "Pledging My Love," and Sandy Denny's "Old-Fashioned Waltz."
After leaving Ahern, she and her children moved back to Nashville. There, Harris joined forces with singer/songwriter Paul Kennerley, on whose 1980 concept album The Legend of Jesse James she had sung backup. Together, they began formulating a record called The Ballad of Sally Rose, employing the pseudonym Harris often used on the road to veil what was otherwise a clearly autobiographical portrait of her own life. Though a commercial failure, the 1985 record proved pivotal in Harris' continued evolution as an artist and a risk taker; it also marked another chapter in her personal life when she and Kennerley wed shortly after concluding their tour. Angel Band, a subtle, acoustic collection of traditional country spirituals, followed, although the record was not issued until 1987, after the release of its immediate follow-up, Thirteen.
Harris, Dolly Parton, and Linda Ronstadt had first toyed with the idea of recording an album together as far back as 1977, only to watch the project falter in light of touring commitments and other red tape. Finally, in 1987, they issued Trio, a collection that proved to be Harris' best-selling album to date, generating the hits "To Know Him Is to Love Him" (a cover of the Phil Spector classic), "Telling Me Lies," and "Those Memories of You." The record's success spurred the 1990 release of Duets, a compilation of her earlier hits in conjunction with George Jones, Willie Nelson, Gram Parsons, and others. Fronting a new band, the Nash Ramblers, in 1992, she issued At the Ryman, a live set recorded at Nashville's legendary Ryman Auditorium, the former home of the Grand Ole Opry. At the time of the record's release, Harris was also serving a term as President of the Country Music Foundation.
In 1993, she ended her long association with Warner Bros./Reprise to move to Asylum Records, where she released Cowgirl's Prayer shortly after her separation from Paul Kennerley. Two years later, at a stage in her career at which most performers retreat to the safety of rehashing their greatest hits again and again, Harris issued Wrecking Ball, perhaps her most adventuresome record to date. Produced by Daniel Lanois, the New Orleans-based artist best known for his atmospheric work with U2, Peter Gabriel, and Bob Dylan, Wrecking Ball was a hypnotic, staggeringly beautiful work comprised of songs ranging from the Neil Young-penned title track (which featured its writer on backing vocals) to Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love" and the talented newcomer Gillian Welch's "Orphan Girl."
A three-disc retrospective of her years with Warner Bros., Portraits, appeared in 1996, and in 1998 Harris resurfaced with Spyboy. Following the release of Trio II later that year, she and Ronstadt again reunited, this time minus Parton, for 1999's Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions. In 2000 Harris returned with Red Dirt Girl, her first album of original material in five years, featuring appearances from Bruce Springsteen, Patti Scialfa, Jill Cuniff, and Patty Griffin. She also made an appearance on the soundtrack for O Brother, Where Art Thou?, along with a number of traditional blues, country, and folk artists. In 2003, Harris released Stumble into Grace; two years later, she collaborated with Conor Oberst on I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, as well as recording a version of "The Scarlet Tide" with Elvis Costello for the soundtrack to Cold Mountain. The retrospective The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches & Highways was also released in 2005 on Rhino Entertainment.
All the Roadrunning, a collection of songs written with Mark Knopfler over the course of seven years, was released in 2006. In 2007 Harris sang a duet with Anne Murray, which appeared on Murray's 2008 album Duets: Friends and Legends. The Brian Ahern-produced All I Intended to Be arrived in 2008 as well. Hard Bargain, Harris' 21st studio album, was released by Nonesuch early in 2011. Produced by Jay Joyce, the album featured the striking Harris originals "Darlin' Kate" (written for Kate McGarrigle) and "The Road" (written for Gram Parsons). She contributed vocals to three songs on the Nick Cave/Warren Ellis-composed score to the film Lawless, including "Cosmonaut" and "Fire in the Blood," as well as a reading of Townes Van Zandt's "Snake Song." Harris also recorded Old Yellow Moon, a duet album with songwriter Rodney Crowell, a reunited version of her Hot Band, and producer Brian Ahern. The album was issued in February of 2013.
Emmylou Harris (born April 2, 1947) is an American singer-songwriter and musician. She has released many chart-topping albums and singles over the course of her career, and has won 12 Grammys and numerous other awards.
In addition to her work as a solo artist and bandleader, both as an interpreter of other composers' works and as a singer-songwriter, she is a sought-after backing vocalist and duet partner, working with numerous other artists including Gram Parsons, John Denver, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, The Band, Mark Knopfler, Guy Clark, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Rodney Crowell, Neil Young and Steve Earle.
Early years 
Harris is from a career military family. Her father, Walter Harris, was a military officer and her mother Eugenia was a wartime military wife. Her father, a member of the Marine Corps, was reported missing in action in Korea in 1952 and spent ten months as a prisoner of war. Born in Birmingham, Alabama, Harris spent her childhood in North Carolina and Woodbridge, Virginia, where she graduated from Gar-Field Senior High School as class valedictorian. She won a drama scholarship to the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she began to study music seriously, learning to play the songs of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez on guitar. Leaving college to pursue her musical aspirations, she moved to New York, working as a waitress to support herself while performing folk songs in Greenwich Village coffeehouses. She married fellow songwriter Tom Slocum in 1969 and recorded her first album, Gliding Bird. Harris and Slocum soon divorced, and Harris and her newborn daughter Hallie moved in with her parents in the Maryland suburbs on the edge of Washington, D.C.
With Gram Parsons 
Harris soon returned to performing as part of a trio with Gerry Mule and Tom Guidera. One night in 1971, members of the country rock group The Flying Burrito Brothers happened to be in the audience. Former Byrds member Chris Hillman, who had taken over the band after the departure of its founder Gram Parsons, was so impressed by Harris that he briefly considered asking her to join the band. Instead, Hillman ended up recommending her to Parsons, who was looking for a female vocalist to work with on his first solo album, GP. Harris toured as a member of Parsons' band, The Fallen Angels, in 1973, and the two of them shone during vocal harmonies and duets. Later that year, Parsons and Harris worked on a studio album, Grievous Angel. Parsons died in his motel room near what is now Joshua Tree National Park on September 19, 1973 from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol. Parsons's Grievous Angel was released posthumously in 1974, and three more tracks from his last sessions with Harris were included on another posthumous Parsons album, Sleepless Nights, in 1976. There was one more album of recorded material from that period of time that was packaged with the name, Live 1973, but was not released until 1982.
The working relationship between Harris and Parsons is of great importance in country and country-rock music history. Parsons offered Harris a study in true country music, introducing her to artists like The Louvin Brothers, and provided her with a musical identity; Harris's harmony and duet vocals, on the other hand, were lauded by those who heard them, and helped inspire Parsons' performances. His death left her devastated at an emotional and musical crossroads. She eventually carried on with her own version of Parsons' musical vision, and was instrumental in bringing attention to his achievements. Harris's earliest signature song, and arguably her most personal one, "Boulder to Birmingham", written shortly after Gram's death, showed the depth of her shock and pain at losing Parsons. It was, according to her best friend Linda Ronstadt, the beginning of a "lifetime effort to process what had happened", and was just the first of many songs written and/or performed by Harris about her life with (and without) Parsons.
The Hot Band 
Warner Brothers A&R representative Mary Martin introduced Harris to Canadian producer Brian Ahern, who produced her major label debut album, Pieces of the Sky, released in 1975 on Reprise Records. The album was surprisingly eclectic, especially by Nashville standards, including cover versions of The Beatles' "For No One", Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and The Louvin Brothers' "If I Could Only Win Your Love". It also featured "Bluebird Wine", a composition by young Texas songwriter Rodney Crowell, who was the first in a long line of songwriters whose talents Harris has championed. The record was one of the most expensive country records produced at the time, featuring the talents of James Burton, Glen Hardin, Ron Tutt, Ray Pohlman, and Bill Payne, as well as two tracks ("Before Believing" and "Queen of the Silver Dollar") that were cut with the Angel Band. Two singles were released: "Too Far Gone", which initially charted at No. 73 (a 1979 reissue hit No. 13), and Harris's first big hit, "If I Could Only Win Your Love", a duet with Herb Pedersen (later a founding member of The Desert Rose Band), which peaked at No. 4.
Executives of Warner Bros. Records (Reprise Records's parent company) told Harris they would agree to record her if she would "get a hot band". Harris did so, enlisting guitarist James Burton and pianist Glen Hardin, both of whom had played with Elvis Presley as well as Parsons. Burton was a renowned guitarist, starting in Ricky Nelson's band in the 1950s, and Hardin had been a member of The Crickets. Other Hot Band members were drummer John Ware, pedal steel guitarist Hank DeVito, and bassist Emory Gordy, Jr., with whom Harris had worked while performing with Parsons. Singer-songwriter Crowell was enlisted as a rhythm guitarist and duet partner. Harris's first tour schedule originally dovetailed around Presley's, owing to Burton and Hardin's continuing commitments to Presley's band. The Hot Band lived up to its name, with most of the members moving on with fresh talent replacing them as they continued on to solo careers of their own.
Elite Hotel, released in December 1975, established that the buzz created by Pieces of the Sky was well-founded. Unusual for country albums at the time, which largely revolved around a hit single, Harris's albums borrowed their approach from the album-oriented rock market. In terms of quality and artistic merit, tracks like "Sin City", "Wheels", and "Till I Gain Control Again", which weren't singles, easily stood against tracks like "Together Again", "Sweet Dreams", and "One of These Days", which were. While Elite Hotel was a No. 1 country album, the album did sufficiently well as a crossover success with the rock audience. Harris appealed to those who normally disapproved of the country market's pull toward crossover pop singles ("Together Again" and "Sweet Dreams" both topped the country charts). Elite Hotel won a Grammy in 1976 for Best Country Vocal Performance, Female.
Harris' reputation for guest work continued. Aside from contributing to albums by Linda Ronstadt, Guy Clark and Neil Young, Harris was tapped by Bob Dylan to perform on his Desire album, but entirely uncredited. Harris also filmed one of the studio sequences, owing to her touring schedule, in The Band's The Last Waltz, singing "Evangeline".
Burton left the Hot Band in 1976, choosing to remain with Elvis Presley's band, and was replaced by English guitarist Albert Lee. Harris's commercial apex was Luxury Liner, released in 1977, which remains one of her definitive records. On Luxury Liner, Harris's mix of songs from Chuck Berry ("(You Never Can Tell) C'est La Vie"), Gram Parsons (the title track and "She"), The Carter Family ("Hello Stranger") and Kitty Wells ("Making Believe") illustrate a continuity and artistic merit to country music often overlooked at the time. Despite Top Ten singles with "C'est La Vie" and "Making Believe", the album's best known track is the first recorded cover of Townes Van Zandt's classic "Pancho & Lefty", which would be a No. 1 hit for Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard in 1983. At the end of 1977, Crowell left the Hot Band to pursue a solo career; his replacement was bluegrass multi-instrumentalist and singer Ricky Skaggs.
Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town signaled a slight change of direction from Harris's previous three albums. Rather than mixing classic and contemporary, the album is made up largely of recently written songs, though from a wide variety of writers. "Two More Bottles of Wine", written by Delbert McClinton, became Harris's third No. 1 single, "To Daddy", written by Dolly Parton, went to No. 3, and a third single, "Easy From Now On", went Top Twenty. The album included two songs apiece from Crowell ("I Ain't Living Long Like This" and "Leaving Louisiana In The Broad Daylight") and songwriter Jesse Winchester ("Defying Gravity" and "My Songbird"), and Utah Phillips' "Green Rolling Hills".
The Roots Records 
In 1977 (January), Harris married Brian Ahern. Their (Harris' second) daughter, Meghann, was born in 1979. During this time, Harris cut three studio albums that reflected a shift toward traditional country (going somewhat against the grain, as the industry was about to embrace a more polished Urban Cowboy sound). The first key to the change in direction was her Grammy Award-winning 1979 album Blue Kentucky Girl. Apart from a cover of The Drifters' "Save The Last Dance For Me", the album was largely made up of classic-styled country material in the vein of Loretta Lynn and Kitty Wells. One of her best-loved albums, the record includes songs ranging from The Louvin Brothers' "Everytime You Leave" to Willie Nelson's "Sister's Coming Home" to Gram Parson's signature "Hickory Wind". Wesley Rose took special interest in Harris' recording of "Beneath Still Waters", which became a No. 1 smash.
A Christmas album, Light of the Stable, was released in 1979; its title track featured backing vocals by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt and Neil Young, all three of whom Harris had been working with sporadically since the mid-1970s, and with whom she would continue to collaborate through the 2000s. (Harris, Parton and Ronstadt began working on a planned trio album during this time, though it would remain unfinished for nearly a decade; a few of the tracks recorded for the project surfaced on the women's respective solo albums in the interim.) The album is largely acoustic, featuring readings of traditional fare such as "Silent Night", "O Little Town of Bethlehem" and "The First Noel".
In the 1980s, Harris pursued country music's history even further with the bluegrass-oriented recording of Roses in the Snow, featuring Ricky Skaggs, Tony Rice, Albert Lee, Emory Gordy Jr. and Jerry Douglas. Harris's versions of the traditional "Wayfaring Stranger" and Paul Simon's "The Boxer" were strong singles.
In 1980, Harris recorded "That Lovin' You Feelin' Again" with Roy Orbison. The duet was a Top 10 hit on both the Country and Adult Contemporary charts. They would win the Grammy Award for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group. She would also be featured on Paul Kennerley's concept album The Legend of Jesse James, which also featured Levon Helm of The Band and Johnny Cash.
Pop-chart success, songwriting 
In 1981, Harris reached the Top 40 on the Billboard pop chart with a cover of "Mister Sandman"—again Top 10 Country as well as Adult Contemporary—from her Evangeline album. (The album version of the song was a track from the ill-fated Trio sessions with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt, but neither Parton's nor Ronstadt's record companies would allow their artists' vocals to be used on the single, so Harris re-recorded the song, singing all three parts for the single release of the song.)
Harris moved to Nashville in 1982. White Shoes in 1983 included an eclectic pairing of the rockish reading of "Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend" with a remake of the Donna Summer hit "On the Radio", as well as tracks from a diverse group of songwriters such as Hot Band member Crowell, Sandy Denny and T-Bone Burnett and was her last album produced by Brian Ahern until All I Intended to Be in 2008.
Harris's major-label releases thus far had included few self-penned songs, but in 1985 her songwriting skills were much in evidence with the release of a concept album The Ballad of Sally Rose, for which she co-wrote all of the songs. The album was semi-autobiographical in theme, based loosely on her relationship with Parsons. Harris described it as a "country opera", and a "huge commercial disaster". Her co-writer and producer on the album was English songwriter and musician Paul Kennerley, writer of the hit singles "Born to Run" (on Harris's 1981 Cimarron album) and "In My Dreams" (on White Shoes). Kennerley also produced her next album, Thirteen. They were married in 1985 and divorced in 1993.
In 1987, nearly a full decade after they'd first attempted to do so, Harris teamed up with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt for their long-promised and much-anticipated Trio disc. The album was the biggest commercial success of Harris's career, spending five weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Country Albums chart (also quickly reaching the Top 10 on the Pop Albums chart), sold several million copies and produced four Top 10 Country hits, including "To Know Him Is To Love Him", which hit No. 1. The disc was nominated for the coveted Album Of The Year Grammy award (given to U2 that year for The Joshua Tree) and the three women won the statuette for Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal; the album's Linda Thompson-penned track "Telling Me Lies" reached No. 3 Country, No. 25 Adult Contemporary, and was also nominated for a Grammy as 1987's Best Country Song.
Harris also found time in 1987 to release a solo album, Angel Band, featuring traditional gospel songs, on which she worked with, among others, rising country star Vince Gill.
In 1989, she recorded two songs with the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band on their album, Will the Circle Be Unbroken: Volume II. In a snippet of studio chatter included on one of the tracks, she talked during the recording session about her beginnings and how music had changed:Years ago I had the experience of sitting around in a living room with a bunch of people and singing and playing, and it was like a spiritual experience, it was wonderful. And I decided then that was what I was going to do with my life was play music, do music. In the making of records, I think over the years we've all gotten a little too technical, a little too hung up on getting things perfect. We've lost the living room. The living room has gone out of the music, but today I feel like we got it back.
1989's Bluebird album, which featured contributions from Marty Stuart, Bonnie Raitt, and Kate and Anna McGarrigle, included the singles "Heartbreak Hill", which reached No. 8 on the U.S. country singles chart, and "Heaven Only Knows", which reached No. 16, the most recent top-twenty chart singles of Harris' career. The following year's Brand New Dance album received favorable reviews, but marked the beginning of a chart and airplay decline for Harris.
Around 1991, she dissolved The Hot Band and formed a new band of acoustic musicians—Sam Bush on fiddle, mandolin and vocals, Roy Huskey, Jr. on bass and vocals, Larry Atamanuik on drums, Al Perkins on banjo, guitar, Dobro guitar and vocals, and Jon Randall on guitar, mandolin and vocals—which she named The Nash Ramblers. They recorded a Grammy Award-winning live album in 1992 at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville, Tennessee, which led to the $8 million restoration of the facility into a premium concert and event venue. It was her last album with Reprise Records. She has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1992.
New directions 
By the 1990s, Harris started receiving less airplay as mainstream country stations began shifting their focus to the youth-oriented "new country" format. As with Brand New Dance, 1993's Cowgirl's Prayer—Harris' first studio album after her switch to Elektra Records—was critically praised but received very little airplay, and its lead single, "High Powered Love" charted very low, peaking at No. 63, prompting her to shift her career in a new direction.
In 1995, Harris released one of the most critically acclaimed albums of the decade, Wrecking Ball, produced by Daniel Lanois, best known for his work with U2, Peter Gabriel and Bob Dylan. An experimental album for Harris, the record included Harris's rendition of the Neil Young-penned title track (Young himself provided guest vocals on two of the album's songs), Steve Earle's "Goodbye", Julie Miller's "All My Tears", Jimi Hendrix's "May This Be Love", Kate and Anna McGarrigle's "Goin' Back to Harlan" and Gillian Welch's "Orphan Girl". U2's Larry Mullen, Jr. showed up to play drums for the project. The album received virtually no country airplay whatsoever, but did bring Harris to the attention of alternative rock listeners, many of whom had never listened to her music before.
Harris then took her Wrecking Ball material on the road, releasing the live Spyboy in 1998, backed with a power trio comprising Nashville producer, songwriter and guitarist Buddy Miller and New Orleans musicians, drummer Brady Blade and bassist-vocalist-percussionist Daryl Johnson. In addition to performing songs from Wrecking Ball, the album updated many of Harris's career hits, including "Boulder to Birmingham".
Also in 1998, she appeared prominently on Willie Nelson's moody, instrumentally sparse Teatro album, produced by Wrecking Ball producer Lanois.
During the summer of 1997 and 1998, Harris joined Sarah McLachlan's all-woman musical touring festival, the Lilith Fair, where new artists like Patty Griffin could share new experiences and ideas with seasoned musicians like Harris and Bonnie Raitt.
In January 1999, Harris released Trio 2 with Parton and Ronstadt. Much of the album had actually been recorded in 1994, but remained unreleased for nearly five years because of record label and personnel disputes, conflicting schedules, and career priorities of the three artists. Trio 2 was much more contemporary-sounding than its predecessor and was certified Gold. It included their version of Neil Young's classic "After The Gold Rush", which became a popular music video and won another Grammy—this one for Best Country Collaboration with Vocals. Harris and Ronstadt then released a duet album, Western Wall: The Tucson Sessions, later the same year. The two superstars toured together during the fall months in support of the disc. Both albums made the Top 10 of Billboard's Country Albums chart and did well on the pop side as well.
Also in 1999, Harris paid tribute to her former singing partner Gram Parsons by co-executive producing Return of the Grievous Angel: A Tribute to Gram Parsons, an album that gathered together more than a dozen artists. Harris performed duets with Beck, Sheryl Crow and The Pretenders on this album's tracks.
In 2000, Harris released her solo follow-up to Wrecking Ball, Red Dirt Girl, produced by Lanois protégé Malcolm Burn. For the first time since The Ballad of Sally Rose, the album contained a number of Harris's own compositions. Like Wrecking Ball, the album's sound leaned more toward alternative rock than country. Nevertheless it reached No. 5 on Billboard's Country Albums chart as well as a healthy No. 54 on the pop side. It also won Harris another of her 12 Grammy awards, in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Harris also accompanied on alternative country singer Ryan Adams' solo debut Heartbreaker and on Tracy Chapman's fifth album Telling Stories.
Also in 2000, Harris joined an all-star group of traditional country, folk and blues artists for the T-Bone Burnett-produced soundtrack to the Coen Brothers film, O Brother, Where Art Thou? The soundtrack won multiple CMA, ACM and Grammy awards. A documentary/concert film, Down from the Mountain, featured the artists performing music from the film and other songs at the Ryman Auditorium. Harris and many of the same artists took their show on the road for the Down from the Mountain Tour in 2002. In 2003, Harris supplied the finishing touches in harmonizing with the Dixie Chicks on a song they were recording in the studio, "Godspeed".
Recent work 
Harris released Stumble into Grace, her follow-up to Red Dirt Girl, in 2003. Like its predecessor, it contained mostly self-penned material. In 2004, Harris led the Sweet Harmony Traveling Revue tour with Gillian Welch, David Rawlings, Buddy Miller and Patty Griffin. They performed singly and together and swapped instruments.
On September 9, 2005, Harris participated in "Shelter from the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast", a series of concerts simulcast by most American television stations to raise money for victims of Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Rita. She performed with Beth Neilsen Chapman and the Dixie Chicks, harmonizing on Patty Griffin's song, "Mary".
In 2005, Harris worked with Conor Oberst on Bright Eyes' release, I'm Wide Awake, It's Morning, performing backup vocals on three tracks. In July, she joined Elvis Costello on several dates of his US tour, performing alongside Costello and his band on several numbers each night. Harris and Costello recorded a version of Costello's song, "The Scarlet Tide", from the soundtrack of the movie Cold Mountain. July also saw the release of The Very Best of Emmylou Harris: Heartaches & Highways, a single-disc retrospective of Harris's career, on the Rhino Entertainment label. This same year, Harris appeared as a guest vocalist on Neil Young's widely acclaimed Prairie Wind. She also appeared in the Jonathan Demme documentary-concert film Neil Young: Heart of Gold, released in 2006.
All the Roadrunning, an album of collaborations with former Dire Straits frontman Mark Knopfler, was released in April 2006 and supported by a tour of Europe and the US. The album was a commercial success, reaching No. 8 in the UK and No. 17 in the US. Selections recorded during the All the Roadrunning tour performance at the Gibson Amphitheatre were released as a CD/DVD package titled Real Live Roadrunning in November 2006. In addition to several of the compositions that Harris and Knopfler recorded together in the studio, Real Live Roadrunning features solo hits from both members of the duo, as well as a few classic tracks from Knopfler's days with Dire Straits.
Harris is featured on A Tribute To Joni Mitchell, released on April 24, 2007. Harris covered the song "The Magdalene Laundries" (originally on Mitchell's 1994 album, Turbulent Indigo). She sang "Another Pot O' Tea" with Anne Murray on Murray's album Anne Murray Duets: Friends and Legends, released November 13, 2007, in Canada and January 15, 2008, in the U.S.
Harris wrote a song called "In Rodanthe" for the 2008 film Nights In Rodanthe.
A solo album, All I Intended to Be, was released on June 10, 2008, to critical acclaim. It reached Top Five of Billboard's Country Albums chart and the Top 20 of the Pop Albums chart. Contributors include Buddy Miller, the McGarrigle sisters, Vince Gill, Phil Madeira, and her 'Trio' sister Dolly Parton. She toured with an ensemble she dubbed the Red Dirt Boys, featuring Phil Madeira on accordion, guitar, and keyboards, Colin Linden on guitar and banjo, Rickie Simpkins on mandolin and fiddle, Chris Donohue on bass, and Bryan Owings on drums. It did not include Miller, who was touring with Robert Plant, Alison Krauss and T Bone Burnett at the time. In 2009, Harris toured with Patty Griffin, Shawn Colvin, and Miller as "Three Girls and Their Buddy". Madeira, Simpkins, and Donohue performed with her in late 2008, and in 2009, appearing on "A Prairie Home Companion" and at MerleFest and the Telluride Bluegrass Festival. In September 2009, Owings rejoined the Red Dirt Boys with Miller for the remainder of 2009.
In April 2009 Harris became a grandmother. Her daughter gave birth to a daughter, Prudence.
In 2010, Harris regrouped with the latest version of the Red Dirt Boys—Madeira, Owings, Donohue, and Simpkins—for Lilith Fair summer dates and a scheduled US autumn tour.
According to an interview with Bonnie Tyler by Digital Spy, Emmylou Harris will be teaming up with her on Tyler's upcoming album. Harris will do backing vocals on a song, written and produced by Wayne Warner. A new solo album, Hard Bargain, was released on the Nonesuch label on April 26, 2011. It reached No. 3 on Billboard's Country Albums chart and the Top 20 of the Pop Albums chart.
PBS host Tavis Smiley interviewed Harris in a program that aired on April 20, 2011. In the interview Harris spoke of being a straight-A student in high school, which led her to being selected as valedictorian, and recounted learning to play guitar by memorizing three chords.
The 2012 single "Emmylou" by Swedish folk duo First Aid Kit on their album The Lion's Roar is, in part, a tribute to Harris, with its lyrics referring to her relationship to Gram Parsons.
In September 2012, she will be featured in a campaign called "30 Songs/30 Days" to support Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide, a multi-platform media project inspired by Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s book.
Old Yellow Moon, an album of duets featuring Harris and former Hot Band member Rodney Crowell, was released on February 26, 2013.
In 1997 and 1998, Harris performed in Sarah McLachlan's Lilith Fair, promoting feminism in music. Since 1999, Harris has been organizing an annual benefit tour called Concerts for a Landmine Free World. All proceeds from the tours support the Vietnam Veterans of America Foundation's (VVAF) efforts to assist innocent victims of conflicts around the world. The tour also benefits the VVAF's work to raise America's awareness of the global landmine problem. Artists that have joined Harris on the road for these dates include Mary Chapin Carpenter, Bruce Cockburn, Sheryl Crow, Steve Earle, Joan Baez, Patty Griffin, Nanci Griffith, Willie Nelson, and Lucinda Williams. Harris is a supporter of animal rights and an active member of PETA. She founded, and in her spare time assists at, an animal shelter in Nashville.
She became a member of the newly formed Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2011.
Awards and other honors 
Grammy Awards 
2005 Best Female Country Vocal Performance ("The Connection")
2001 Album of the Year (O Brother, Where Art Thou?)
2000 Best Contemporary Folk Album (Red Dirt Girl)
1999 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals ("After The Gold Rush", with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt)
1998 Best Country Collaboration with Vocals ("Same Old Train", with Alison Krauss, Clint Black, Dwight Yoakam, Earl Scruggs, Joe Diffie, Marty Stuart, Merle Haggard, Pam Tillis, Patty Loveless, Randy Travis, Ricky Skaggs & Travis Tritt)
1995 Best Contemporary Folk Album (Wrecking Ball)
1992 Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers At the Ryman, as Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers)
1987 Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocal (Trio, with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt)
1984 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female ("In My Dreams")
1980 Best Country Vocal Performance by a Duo or Group ("That Lovin' You Feelin' Again", with Roy Orbison)
1979 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female (Blue Kentucky Girl)
1976 Best Country Vocal Performance, Female (Elite Hotel)
Country Music Association Awards 
2001 Album of the Year (O Brother, Where Art Thou?)
1980 Female Vocalist Of The Year
1988 Vocal Event of the Year (Trio, with Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt)