Washington DC does not stand out as a bastion of country music.
With its many monuments to leaders such as Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson, plus the White House and Capitol Hill, it attracts political junkies as tourists rather than country music fans.
But just a stone’s throw from the Oval Office is Washington’s Constitution Hall, which was the venue for a tribute concert to Emmylou Harris last year, which has now been released as a live album and DVD called The Life and Times of Emmylou Harris.
In 1971, Emmylou Harris was playing at a music club in the Washington suburb or Georgetown when Chris Hillman from country rock band, The Flying Burrito Brothers, walked into the venue. Harris was living at her parents place in nearby Clarkesville, after splitting from her husband.
After being discovered by Hillman, he recommended her to former band mate Gram Parsons, who soon hired the young singer after ringing her parents’ Clarkesville home. It was the beginning of a long career, which has included performing with Parsons, then as a solo artist, as well as projects such as the Trio albums with Linda Ronstadt and Dolly Parton.
It was the beginning of a long career.
Parsons had hired her to sing on 1973 album GP and, then on the tour to promote the album, but by the end of that year Parsons was dead from a drug overdose.
Harris released her major label debut album, Pieces of the Sky in 1975, and several other albums followed in the following years, including Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town (1978) and Blue Kentucky Girl.
Harris reinvented her sound by mixing several genres in her autobiographical album, The Ballad of Sally Rose, in 1985.
Along the way Harris has won 13 Grammys, the most recent in 2014 for a duet album with Rodney Crowell.
Crowell, who played in Harris’ band in the 70s is one of the artists among a stellar line-up, including Alison Krauss, Steve Earle, Sheryl Crow, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Vince Gill and Kris Kristofferson, who played at the tribute concert in Washington.
It is a fitting tribute to one of the finest singers to grace a stage.