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Country singer Emmylou Harris spent forty years recording hit music, often working with artists like Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Linda Ronstadt.
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Born April 2, 1947, Emmylou Harris was performing in D.C.-area bars when she met singer Gram Parsons, who became her mentor. After his death in 1973, she released her major label solo debut album, Pieces of the Sky (1975). Several other albums followed, such as Quarter Moon in a Ten Cent Town (1978) and Blue Kentucky Girl. In 1985, Harris reinvented her sound by mixing several genres in her autobiographical album, The Ballad of Sally Rose.
Country singer, songwriter and musician Emmylou Harris was born April 2, 1947, in Birmingham, Alabama. Harris' father was a decorated Marine Corps pilot who spent 16 months as a prisoner of war in Korea during the early 1950s. The family moved a great deal, and while Harris spent most of her childhood in North Carolina, she attended high school in Woodbridge, Virginia, on the outskirts of Washington, D.C.
Harris studied drama at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro before dropping out to move to New York City and pursue a musical career. While performing folk and country music in Greenwich Village clubs and coffeehouses and waitressing, Harris met songwriter Tom Slocum, whom she married in 1969.
Harris recorded her debut album, Gliding Bird (1970), with the small folk music label Jubilee, which filed for bankruptcy shortly after the albums release. Later that year, Harris and Slocum moved to Nashville to try their luck on the country music scene. The marriage failed that same year, and Harris moved back to her parents' farm outside Washington, D.C., with her infant daughter, Hallie.
Harris resumed singing and playing the guitar in D.C., which was becoming known for its unique receptivity to country, folk and bluegrass music. While performing with a trio at local bars, Harris met several members of the maverick country-rock band the Flying Burrito Brothers, who introduced her to their ex-bandleader, Gram Parsons. Parsons had just begun his solo career, and needed a female vocalist to sing harmony on his debut solo effort, GP (1972).
Harris became Parsons' protégé of sorts, and learned a great deal from his groundbreaking country-rock fusion style. She also went on tour with Parsons and his backup act, the Fallen Angels, and returned to the studio with him in 1973 to record his acclaimed follow-up album, Grievous Angel. Tragically, in September 1973, Parsons died in a California hotel room from a heart attack brought on by drug and alcohol abuse.
After the untimely death of her mentor, Harris formed her own group, the Angel Band, and signed with Warner Bros./Reprise Records. In Los Angeles with producer Brian Ahern, Harris recorded and released her solo major label debut, Pieces of the Sky, in 1975. Ahern and Harris were married in January 1977, and Ahern would helm all of Harris' next 10 albums. An eclectic collection of covers of songs by artists as diverse as Merle Haggard and The Beatles, Pieces of the Sky spawned the Top 5 country hit "If I Could Only Win Your Love," by the Louivin Brothers.
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