Happy Birthday Emmylou Harris: Celebrating the Country Music Hall of Famer

by Keeli Parkey

Emmylou Harris, one of the most celebrated artists over the last five decades, is celebrating her 74th birthday today (Friday, April 2). She was born on April 2, 1947, in Birmingham, Alabama.

Harris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008, according to CountryFanCast.com. What makes that interesting is that she did not start out her career with the goal of being a successful country artist. She actually started her career as a folk music artist.

As a performer in the folk music genre, Emmylou Harris started her career performing covers of songs by other singers and musicians. However, meeting the band The Flying Burrito Brothers reportedly changed her career path.

The article reports that a former member of the group was in search of a female singer for a new country music album. It was this relationship that would bring Emmylou Harris into the country music world, especially classic country music.

The Country Music Hall of Fame’s entry on the respected singer reports that Harris continued performing covers after she made the jump to country music. And, she was very good at it. “Harris’s first country hits speak to her breadth and good taste in song selection,” the entry states.

During her career, Harris has sold more than 20 million albums, according to CountryFanCast.com. She has also won 13 Grammy Awards. But, she has done much with her life than just be a famous singer.

Here are a Few Things You Might Not Know about Emmylou Harris

Fans of country music will be very familiar with Emmylou Harris’s track record as an artist. Here are a few things you might not know about her.

Harris was the valedictorian of her high school class when she graduated. She reportedly earned that diploma with a 4.0 GPA. She was very interested in drama. And after high school, she went to the University of North Carolina thanks to a scholarship in drama. However, she decided she preferred singing to acting and quit school.

Emmylou Harris is an animal lover and highly concerned about animal rights. And, she established a no-kill dog rescue organization in 2004. Named Bonaparte’s Retreat, the facility is located in Nashville, Tennessee. Harris named the center after one of her dogs. The organization promotes adoption and Harris has been known to perform at some of the center’s activities.

The singer is also an advocate for women’s rights and rights for the LGBT community, according to the website. She also proudly supports veterans of the United States Armed Forces. Her father served in the military and was a prisoner of war. This personal connection has reportedly made supporting veterans important to Harris.

You can watch Emmylou Harris accept the Polar Music Prize below. The ceremony took place during 2015. During her acceptance speech, Harris shares the following moving message: “To live and work doing what you love is reward unto itself, but to be acknowledged for that work is, as I am tonight is something that I could never have imagined and I am truly, truly humbled.”

She also describes her life as an artist as “an incredible journey.” Happy birthday, Emmylou Harris. We all hope that journey continues for many, many years.