Because she has long been an impeccable interpreter of other songwriters’ material, Emmylou Harris’s gift for songwriting has too often been overlooked. That situation will be remedied in part on June 3rd, when Fleeing Ghost Records releases To Emmylou, an eclectic tribute to the Grammy-winning songbird’s original compositions from several up-and-coming bands based in Los Angeles.
The Alabama-born musician, whose career-defining years in the burgeoning country-rock scene of California have earned her the honorary title of Godmother of Americana Music, may not have the extensive songwriting credits of some of her peers, but for nearly five decades her soul-searing takes on the works of others have established the gold standard of artistic interpretation.
To Emmylou opens with a punchy rendition of the singer’s grief-laden 1975 tune “Boulder to Birmingham” from Tall Tales and the Silver Lining, the musical project of multi-instrumentalist Trevor Beld Jimenez. The subsequent tracks range from the airy and intense “Boy From Tupelo” by indie quintet Wires in the Walls, to the propulsive Hard Bargain cut, “Six White Cadillacs,” from the four-man band Burning Jet Black, to Ashleigh Flynn’s spare and heartbreaking acoustic version of “Red Dirt Girl,” the evocative title cut from Harris’s 2000 LP, her first to feature material primarily written solo by the Country Music Hall of Fame legend. Other highlights include Great Outwest joined by Harris soundalike Lindsay Carter Coates for “Rhythm Guitar,” a track from the groundbreaking Ballad of Sally Rose concept LP, released in 1985 and featuring songs co-written by Harris and then-husband Paul Kennerley.
In January 2015, Harris and her songs were the subjects of an all-star musical tribute concert in Washington, D.C., featuring Mavis Staples, Martina McBride, Milk Carton Kids, Lucinda Williams and more.
In honor of the singer-songwriter’s Nashville-based animal welfare charity, Bonapartes Retreat, 20 percent of all proceeds from the sale of To Emmylou will be donated to animal rescue charities.