And as part of that distinction, one of the greatest living country singer-songwriters began her career on UNCG’s own Tate Street.
In 1965-67, before recording and touring with Gram Parsons, before assembling a band of country music and bluegrass masters that included Elvis’ Hot Band, before becoming a 14-time Grammy winner and Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, and decades before being inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame, a UNCG student performed at Tate Street’s Red Door Café, roughly in the current spot of Leon’s hair salon.
The golden-voiced singer and then-budding songwriter was the recipient of a drama scholarship in UNCG’s Department of Drama and Speech, and faculty from that time remember not only her shows at the Red Door, but also seeing her in a production of Shakespeare’s “The Tempest” at Taylor Theatre and “The Dancing Donkey,” with the North Carolina Theatre for Young People.
This winter, the world-famous singer-songwriter and bandleader is set for a return to Tate Street, performing at UNCG Auditorium on Jan. 24 as part of UNCG’s University Concert and Lecture Series.
Coming up in the 1960s and 70s music scene, Harris blurred the lines between country and rock ’n’ roll. Before becoming a prolific composer in her own right, Harris played songs by and collaborated with a tremendously diverse set of artists: Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Lucinda Williams, Delbert McClinton, Neil Young, Townes Van Zandt, Johnny Cash, Ricky Skaggs, Dolly Parton, Jimi Hendrix, and Rodney Crowell, just to name a few.
Harris’ 1992 album “At the Ryman” is credited with saving Nashville’s famed Ryman Auditorium from demolition, and instead renewing it as a world-class venue. Her 1995 album, “Wrecking Ball,” was hailed as an experimental alternative rock-country triumph and showcased a number of contemporary songwriters. In 2000, “Red Dirt Girl,” made up almost entirely of Harris’ own compositions, was No. 3 on the Billboard country album charts and won the Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
Her 2006 collaboration with Mark Knopfler, “All the Roadrunning” was an international success, and in 2014 “Old Yellow Moon,” an album that featured both Harris and Rodney Crowell, earned Harris her 13th Grammy award. In 2016, Harris and Crowell won an Americana Music Award for Duo/Group of the year and two Grammy nominations for their 2015 album, “The Traveling Kind.”
With her current band, The Red Dirt Boys, Harris continues to sing and perform worldwide.
For tickets to the show on Jan. 24 at UNCG Auditorium – doors open at 7:30, the show starts at 8 p.m. – visit: https://www.etix.com/ticket/p/6026607/ucls-emmylou-harris-greensboro-uncg-auditorium.
By Susan Kirby-Smith
Photography by Veronique Rolland