Bluegrass music is a genre of American roots music that developed in the 1940s in the United States Appalachian region. The genre derives its name from the Blue Grass Boys. Bluegrass has roots in traditional English and Scottish ballads and dance tunes, by traditional African-American blues and jazz; the Blue Grass Boys played a Mountain Music style that Bill learned in Asheville, North Carolina from bands like Wade Mainer's and other popular acts on radio station WWNC. It was further developed by musicians who played with him, including 5-string banjo player Earl Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt. Bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe characterized the genre as: "Scottish bagpipes and ole-time fiddlin'. It's Holiness and Baptist. It's blues and jazz, it has a high lonesome sound."Bluegrass features acoustic string instruments and emphasizes the offbeat. Notes are anticipated in contrast to laid back blues where notes are behind the beat, which creates the higher energy characteristic of bluegrass. In bluegrass, as in some forms of jazz, one or more instruments each takes its turn playing the melody and improvising around it, while the others perform accompaniment.
This is in contrast to old-time music, in which all instruments play the melody together or one instrument carries the lead throughout while the others provide accompaniment. Breakdowns are characterized by rapid tempos and unusual instrumental dexterity and sometimes by complex chord changes. There are three major subgenres of bluegrass. Traditional bluegrass has musicians playing folk songs, tunes with traditional chord progressions, using only acoustic instruments, with an example being Bill Monroe. Progressive bluegrass groups may use electric instruments and import songs from other genres rock & roll. Examples include Cadillac Bearfoot. Another subgenre, bluegrass gospel, uses Christian lyrics, soulful three- or four-part harmony singing, sometimes the playing of instrumentals. A newer development in the bluegrass world is Neo-traditional bluegrass. Bluegrass music has attracted a diverse following worldwide. Unlike mainstream country music, bluegrass is traditionally played on acoustic stringed instruments.
The fiddle, five-string banjo, guitar and upright bass are joined by the resonator guitar and harmonica or Jew's harp. This instrumentation originated in rural dance bands and is the basis on which the earliest bluegrass bands were formed; the guitar is now most played with a style referred to as flatpicking, unlike the style of early bluegrass guitarists such as Lester Flatt, who used a thumb pick and finger pick. Banjo players use the three-finger picking style made popular by banjoists such as Earl Scruggs. Fiddlers play in thirds and fifths, producing a sound, characteristic to the bluegrass style. Bassists always play pizzicato adopting the "slap-style" to accentuate the beat. A bluegrass bass line is a rhythmic alternation between the root and fifth of each chord, with occasional walking bass excursions. Instrumentation has been a continuing topic of debate. Traditional bluegrass performers believe the "correct" instrumentation is that used by Bill Monroe's band, the Blue Grass Boys. Departures from the traditional instrumentation have included dobro, harmonica, autoharp, electric guitar, electric versions of other common bluegrass instruments, resulting in what has been referred to as "newgrass."
Apart from specific instrumentation, a distinguishing characteristic of bluegrass is vocal harmony featuring two, three, or four parts with a dissonant or modal sound in the highest voice, a style described as the "high, lonesome sound." The ordering and layering of vocal harmony is called the "stack". A standard stack has the lead in the middle and a tenor at the top. Alison Krauss and Union Station provide a good example of a different harmony stack with a baritone and tenor with a high lead, an octave above the standard melody line, sung by the female vocalist. However, by employing variants to the standard trio vocal arrangement, they were following a pattern existing since the early days of the genre; the Stanley Brothers utilized a high baritone part on several of their trios recorded for Columbia records during their time with that label. Mandolin player Pee Wee Lambert sang the high baritone above Ralph Stanley's tenor, both parts above Carter's lead vocal; this trio vocal arrangement was variously used by other groups as well.
In the 1960s Flatt and Scruggs added a fifth part to the traditional quartet parts on gospel songs, the extra part being a high baritone. The use of a high lead with the tenor and baritone below it was most famously employed by the Osborne Brothers who first employed it during their time with MGM records in the latter half of the 1950s; this vocal arrangement would be the home aspect of the Osbornes' sound with Bobby's high, clear voice at the top of the vocal stack. Bluegrass tunes can be described as narratives on the everyday lives of the people whence the music came. Aside from laments about loves lost, interpersonal tensions and unwanted changes to the region (e.g. the visible effects of moun
The United States of America known as the United States or America, is a country composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is smaller than the entire continent of Europe's 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U. S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D. C. and the largest city by population is New York City. Forty-eight states and the capital's federal district are contiguous in North America between Canada and Mexico; the State of Alaska is in the northwest corner of North America, bordered by Canada to the east and across the Bering Strait from Russia to the west. The State of Hawaii is an archipelago in the mid-Pacific Ocean; the U. S. territories are scattered about the Pacific Ocean and the Caribbean Sea, stretching across nine official time zones. The diverse geography and wildlife of the United States make it one of the world's 17 megadiverse countries.
Paleo-Indians migrated from Siberia to the North American mainland at least 12,000 years ago. European colonization began in the 16th century; the United States emerged from the thirteen British colonies established along the East Coast. Numerous disputes between Great Britain and the colonies following the French and Indian War led to the American Revolution, which began in 1775, the subsequent Declaration of Independence in 1776; the war ended in 1783 with the United States becoming the first country to gain independence from a European power. The current constitution was adopted in 1788, with the first ten amendments, collectively named the Bill of Rights, being ratified in 1791 to guarantee many fundamental civil liberties; the United States embarked on a vigorous expansion across North America throughout the 19th century, acquiring new territories, displacing Native American tribes, admitting new states until it spanned the continent by 1848. During the second half of the 19th century, the Civil War led to the abolition of slavery.
By the end of the century, the United States had extended into the Pacific Ocean, its economy, driven in large part by the Industrial Revolution, began to soar. The Spanish–American War and World War I confirmed the country's status as a global military power; the United States emerged from World War II as a global superpower, the first country to develop nuclear weapons, the only country to use them in warfare, a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Sweeping civil rights legislation, notably the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, outlawed discrimination based on race or color. During the Cold War, the United States and the Soviet Union competed in the Space Race, culminating with the 1969 U. S. Moon landing; the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 left the United States as the world's sole superpower. The United States is the world's oldest surviving federation, it is a representative democracy.
The United States is a founding member of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, Organization of American States, other international organizations. The United States is a developed country, with the world's largest economy by nominal GDP and second-largest economy by PPP, accounting for a quarter of global GDP; the U. S. economy is post-industrial, characterized by the dominance of services and knowledge-based activities, although the manufacturing sector remains the second-largest in the world. The United States is the world's largest importer and the second largest exporter of goods, by value. Although its population is only 4.3% of the world total, the U. S. holds 31% of the total wealth in the world, the largest share of global wealth concentrated in a single country. Despite wide income and wealth disparities, the United States continues to rank high in measures of socioeconomic performance, including average wage, human development, per capita GDP, worker productivity.
The United States is the foremost military power in the world, making up a third of global military spending, is a leading political and scientific force internationally. In 1507, the German cartographer Martin Waldseemüller produced a world map on which he named the lands of the Western Hemisphere America in honor of the Italian explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci; the first documentary evidence of the phrase "United States of America" is from a letter dated January 2, 1776, written by Stephen Moylan, Esq. to George Washington's aide-de-camp and Muster-Master General of the Continental Army, Lt. Col. Joseph Reed. Moylan expressed his wish to go "with full and ample powers from the United States of America to Spain" to seek assistance in the revolutionary war effort; the first known publication of the phrase "United States of America" was in an anonymous essay in The Virginia Gazette newspaper in Williamsburg, Virginia, on April 6, 1776. The second draft of the Articles of Confederation, prepared by John Dickinson and completed by June 17, 1776, at the latest, declared "The name of this Confederation shall be the'United States of America'".
The final version of the Articles sent to the states for ratification in late 1777 contains the sentence "The Stile of this Confederacy shall be'The United States of America'". In June 1776, Thomas Jefferson wrote the phrase "UNITED STATES OF AMERICA" in all capitalized letters in the headline of his "original Rough draught" of the Declaration of Independence; this draft of the document did not surface unti
Alsie "Rex" Griffin was an American country musician and songwriter. Griffin was born in Alabama as the second of seven children to Marion and Selma Griffin, he grew up on a farm and received little schooling finding work in the factory where his father worked as a teenager. He played harmonica but picked up guitar soon after, playing locally in a style influenced by Jimmie Rodgers. Griffin started playing professionally in 1930, shortly thereafter moved to Birmingham, where he joined the Smokey Mountaineers and adopted the name "Rex", since the Mountaineers' announcer found it difficult to pronounce his given name. Throughout the first half of the 1930s he played on radio stations throughout the American South. Griffin's first recordings followed in 1935 for Decca Records, with Johnny Motlow playing banjo on his first session of ten songs, he recorded alone the following year for Decca, with one of the songs being his own composition, "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby". These songs were a huge influence on Hank Williams and one of them was "Lovesick Blues" which Williams covered for his first big hit.
Griffin found some success in the latter part of the decade, recorded his biggest hit, "The Last Letter", in 1937. The tune, whose lyrics were a hypothetical suicide note, was popular throughout the South and was covered by Jimmie Davis and others. Gene Sullivan and Bob Crosby covered Griffin-penned songs in the 1930s. Griffin recorded for Decca through 1939, after which time he was dropped due to slacking record sales, he rejoined the band of Billie Walker and Her Texas Cowboys in 1940, having played with them in the middle of the 1930s. He played with his own Melody Boys in Alabama not long after, which featured musicians, Vernon "Toby" Reese, Chester Studdard and Ray "Kemo" Head who played with Ernest Tubb's Texas Troubadours. In 1941, his mother died, he moved on to Dallas, working at radio station KRLD until 1943. In 1944 he recorded again for Decca on a series of transcription discs, which were never commercially issued by Decca, his last recordings followed in 1946 on King Records out of Cincinnati.
Griffin sold many of his songs with no credit or recognition and collaborated on many without recognition. One possible collaboration is "I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus"; the ill effects of a second divorce and diabetes took their toll on Griffin, who could not continue active performance after the late 1940s. His marriage to Dorothy K. Smith of Columbus, Georgia produced two daughters: Christine, Rexine with five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren and six great great grandchildren, he returned to Dallas and worked as a songwriter, penning tunes for Ray Price, Ernest Tubb, Eddy Arnold, Red Foley. He contracted tuberculosis in the middle of the 1950s, died near the end of the decade in New Orleans. By the time of his death he was forgotten, due in no small part to the fact that his hits had come before the era of the LP record and were never reissued to 12" vinyl, his songs were known to country musicians, were covered by Hank Thompson, Jack Greene, Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings, Merle Haggard.
In 1956, Carl Perkins adapted his "Everybody's Trying to Be My Baby" into his own song and in 1964 The Beatles covered it on the album Beatles for Sale. Griffin's "Won't You Ride in My Little Red Wagon?" became Hank Penny's theme song, has been covered by various artists including Willie Nelson, Hank Thompson, Merle Travis. In 1963, Ernest Tubb released a tribute album titled Just Call Me Lonesome, consisting of songs written by Griffin. Griffin was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1970. In 1996, Bear Family Records issued a 3-CD set of Griffin's recordings. Bruce Eder, Rex Griffin at Allmusic Pugh, Ronnie. "First Year In Nashville". In Ernest Tubb: The Texas Troubadour. Durham, N. C.: Duke University Press. Pp. 88. Rex Griffin CMT Biography "The Last Letter" Rex Griffin Singles Discography @ Hillbilly Music
Clint Patrick Black is an American country music singer, musician, multi-instrumentalist, record producer and actor. Signed to RCA Records in 1989, Black's debut album Killin' Time produced four straight number one singles on the US Billboard Hot Country Singles & Tracks charts. Although his momentum slowed throughout the 1990s, Black charted hit songs into the 2000s, he has had more than 30 singles on the US Billboard country charts, twenty-two of which have reached number one, in addition to having released twelve studio albums and several compilation albums. In 2003, Black founded Equity Music Group. Black has ventured into acting, having made a cameo appearance in the 1994 film Maverick, as well as a starring role in 1998's Still Holding On: The Legend of Cadillac Jack. Clinton Patrick Black was born in Long Branch, New Jersey, the youngest of four children born to G. A. and Ann Black, lived in nearby Red Bank. The family moved back to Texas, where G. A. Black had been raised, he was raised in Texas.
Music was always present in the house. Black taught himself to play harmonica before he was 13, at 14 wrote his first song, his father remarked that it was at that age that the parents "first noticed that he had a great voice". By 15, Black had learned to play guitar; as a teenager Black joined his elder brothers, Mark and Brian, in their small band. On Saturday afternoons, the family would host backyard barbecues and invite the neighborhood to listen to the boys sing; some weekends would attract up to 70 people. Black dropped out of high school to play with his brothers, before becoming a solo act. Black was drawn to a variety of musical genres. According to his father, he chose to focus on country music in the early 1980s, after singers George Strait and Reba McEntire moved the genre back toward the more traditional. For six years, Black supported himself as a construction worker, bait cutter, fishing guide, while singing at various lounges as a solo singer and guitarist. In 1987, at one of the gigs he met Hayden Nicholas.
The two men began a song writing partnership that would last decades. In the late 1980s, Black delivered a demo of their collaboration "Nobody's Home" to record promoter Sammy Alfano. Within two days of that delivery, Black was invited to a meeting with Bill Ham. Black soon signed with RCA at that time considered one of the "most aggressive" labels in country music, his first album, Killin' Time, was released in 1989. Each song on the album was penned at least in part by Black. In a departure from most other country albums, Black used his road band instead of session musicians to record Killin' Time; the album was a critical and commercial success, reaching number one on the Billboard Country Albums chart and certified platinum in 1990. He made his debut in 1989 with the single, "A Better Man", which reached number one on the Billboard Hot Country Songs in early June; this marked the first time in 14 years that a debut single by a male artist had peaked at the top of the chart. In total, five singles off of his debut album reached number one, the first time any country artist had accomplished this feat.
Black won the Country Music Association's Horizon Award for best newcomer in 1989. At the end of the year, his singles, "A Better Man" and "Killin' Time" place number one and number two on the year-end country singles charts, it had been 36 years. Looking back at the early stages of his career, Black recalled: "'At one point, I knew I crossed this line out of obscurity and I felt like no matter what happened from that point on I would always be remembered for "Killin' Time." There was this kind of mixed feeling of remorse and excitement.'"In late 1990, the Los Angeles Times surveyed country music industry insiders to determine which acts could be expected to sell the most records over the next seven years. Black placed second in two votes behind Garth Brooks; the survey results were surprising in that 10 of the top 20 artists named were relative newcomers to the industry. The plethora of new acts confused some reviewers, however. Many reviewers lumped many of the new acts together. Black soon became known as one of Nashville's "hat acts".
Killin' Time was certified platinum in 1990. Black's second album, Put Yourself in My Shoes, was released in November 1990, it was in the top 20 on the pop album charts. This success on the pop charts resulted from a change in the way Billboard calculated album sales; the album did not meet with as much critical acclaim as his debut, but nonetheless still included several hit singles. He began touring with Alabama. Black began dating actress Lisa Hartman in 1990; the couple kept their relationship quiet. The first picture of the two of them together was not published; the couple married in Katy, Texas, in October 1991. Black has been a member of the Grand Ole Opry since 1
Fiddling refers to the act of playing the fiddle, fiddlers are musicians that play it. A fiddle is a bowed string musical instrument, most a violin, it is a colloquial term for the violin, used by players in all genres including classical music. Although violins and fiddles are synonymous, the style of the music played may determine specific construction differences between fiddles and classical violins. For example, fiddles may optionally be set up with a bridge with a flatter arch to reduce the range of bow-arm motion needed for techniques such as the double shuffle, a form of bariolage involving rapid alternation between pairs of adjacent strings. To produce a "brighter" tone, compared to the deeper tones of gut or synthetic core strings, fiddlers use steel strings; the fiddle is part of many traditional styles, which are aural traditions—taught'by ear' rather than via written music. Among musical styles, fiddling tends to produce rhythms that focus on dancing, with associated quick note changes, whereas classical music tends to contain more vibrato and sustained notes.
Fiddling is open to improvisation and embellishment with ornamentation at the player's discretion—in contrast to orchestral performances, which adhere to the composer's notes to reproduce a work faithfully. It is less common for a classically trained violinist to play folk music, but today, many fiddlers have classical training; the medieval fiddle emerged in 10th-century Europe, deriving from the Byzantine lira, a bowed string instrument of the Byzantine Empire and ancestor of most European bowed instruments. The first recorded reference to the bowed lira was in the 9th century by the Persian geographer Ibn Khurradadhbih. Lira spread westward to Europe. Over the centuries, Europe continued to have two distinct types of fiddles: one square-shaped, held in the arms, became known as the viola da braccio family and evolved into the violin. During the Renaissance the gambas were elegant instruments; the etymology of fiddle is uncertain: the Germanic fiddle may derive from the same early Romance word as does violin, or it may be natively Germanic.
The name appears to be related to Icelandic Fiðla and Old English fiðele. A native Germanic ancestor of fiddle might be the ancestor of the early Romance form of violin. In medieval times, fiddle referred to a predecessor of today's violin. Like the violin, it came in a variety of shapes and sizes. Another family of instruments that contributed to the development of the modern fiddle are the viols, which are held between the legs and played vertically, have fretted fingerboards. In performance, a solo fiddler, or one or two with a group of other instrumentalists, is the norm, though twin fiddling is represented in some North American, Scandinavian and Irish styles. Following the folk revivals of the second half of the 20th century, however, it has become common for less formal situations to find large groups of fiddlers playing together—see for example the Calgary Fiddlers, Swedish Spelmanslag folk-musician clubs, the worldwide phenomenon of Irish sessions. Orchestral violins, on the other hand, are grouped in sections, or "chairs".
These contrasting traditions may be vestiges of historical performance settings: large concert halls where violins were played required more instruments, before electronic amplification, than did more intimate dance halls and houses that fiddlers played in. The difference was compounded by the different sounds expected of violin music and fiddle music; the majority of fiddle music was dance music, while violin music had either grown out of dance music or was something else entirely. Violin music came to value a smoothness that fiddling, with its dance-driven clear beat, did not always follow. In situations that required greater volume, a fiddler could push their instrument harder than could a violinist. Various fiddle traditions have differing values. In the late 20th century, a few artists have attempted a reconstruction of the Scottish tradition of violin and "big fiddle," or cello. Notable recorded examples include Iain Fraser and Christine Hanson, Amelia Kaminski and Christine Hanson's Bonnie Lasses, Alasdair Fraser and Natalie Haas' Fire and Grace. and Tim Macdonald and Jeremy Ward's The Wilds.
Hungarian and Romanian fiddle players are accompanied by a three-stringed variant of the viola—known as the kontra—and by double bass, with cimbalom and clarinet being less standard yet still common additions to a band. In Hungary, a three stringed viola variant with a flat bridge, called the kontra or háromhúros brácsa makes up part of a traditional rhythm section in Hungarian folk music; the flat bridge lets the musician play three-string chords. A three stringed double bass variant is used. To a greater extent than classical violin playing, fiddle playing is characterized by a huge variety of ethnic or folk music traditions, each of which has its own distinctive sound. English folk music fiddling, including The Northumbrian fiddle style, which features "seconding", an improvised harmo
Nashville is the capital and most populous city of the U. S. state of Tennessee. The city is located on the Cumberland River; the city's population ranks 24th in the U. S. According to 2017 estimates from the U. S. Census Bureau, the total consolidated city-county population stood at 691,243; the "balance" population, which excludes semi-independent municipalities within Davidson County, was 667,560 in 2017. Located in northern Middle Tennessee, Nashville is the main core of the largest metropolitan area in Tennessee; the 2017 population of the entire 14-county Nashville metropolitan area was 1,903,045. The 2017 population of the Nashville—Davidson–Murfreesboro–Columbia combined statistical area, a larger trade area, was 2,027,489. Named for Francis Nash, a general of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, the city was founded in 1779; the city grew due to its strategic location as a port and railroad center. Nashville seceded with Tennessee during the American Civil War and in 1862 became the first state capital to fall to Union troops.
After the war the city developed a manufacturing base. Since 1963, Nashville has had a consolidated city-county government, which includes six smaller municipalities in a two-tier system; the city is governed by a mayor, a vice-mayor, a 40-member metropolitan council. Reflecting the city's position in state government, Nashville is home to the Tennessee Supreme Court's courthouse for Middle Tennessee. Nashville is a center for the music, publishing, private prison and transportation industries, is home to numerous colleges and universities such as Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Belmont University, Fisk University, Lipscomb University. Entities with headquarters in the city include Asurion, Bridgestone Americas, Captain D's, CoreCivic, Dollar General, Hospital Corporation of America, LifeWay Christian Resources, Logan's Roadhouse, Ryman Hospitality Properties; the town of Nashville was founded by James Robertson, John Donelson, a party of Overmountain Men in 1779, near the original Cumberland settlement of Fort Nashborough.
It was named for the American Revolutionary War hero. Nashville grew because of its strategic location, accessibility as a port on the Cumberland River, a tributary of the Ohio River. By 1800, the city had 345 residents, including 136 enslaved African Americans and 14 free African-American residents. In 1806, Nashville was incorporated as a city and became the county seat of Davidson County, Tennessee. In 1843, the city was named as the permanent capital of the state of Tennessee; the city government of Nashville owned 24 slaves by 1831, 60 prior to the war. They were "put to work to build the first successful water system and maintain the streets." The cholera outbreak that struck Nashville in 1849–1850 took the life of former U. S. President James K. Polk. There were 311 deaths from cholera in 1849 and an estimated 316 to about 500 in 1850. By 1860, when the first rumblings of secession began to be heard across the South, antebellum Nashville was a prosperous city; the city's significance as a shipping port made it a desirable prize as a means of controlling important river and railroad transportation routes.
In February 1862, Nashville became the first state capital to fall to Union troops. The state was occupied by Union troops for the duration of the war; the Battle of Nashville was a significant Union victory and the most decisive tactical victory gained by either side in the war. Afterward, the Confederates conducted a war of attrition, making guerrilla raids and engaging in small skirmishes, with the Confederate forces in the Deep South constantly in retreat. In 1868, a few years after the Civil War, the Nashville chapter of the Ku Klux Klan was founded by Confederate veteran John W. Morton. Chapters of this secret insurgent group formed throughout the South. In 1873 Nashville suffered another cholera epidemic, as did towns throughout Sumner County along railroad routes and the Cumberland River. Meanwhile, the city had reclaimed its important shipping and trading position and developed a solid manufacturing base; the post–Civil War years of the late 19th century brought new prosperity to Nashville and Davidson County.
These healthy economic times left the city with a legacy of grand classical-style buildings, including the Parthenon in Centennial Park, near downtown. On April 30, 1892, Ephraim Grizzard, an African-American man, was lynched in a spectacle murder in front of a white mob of 10,000 in Nashville, his lynching was described by journalist Ida B. Wells as: "A naked, bloody example of the blood-thirstiness of the nineteenth century civilization of the Athens of the South." From 1877 to 1950, a total of six lynchings of blacks were conducted in Davidson County, most in the county seat of Nashville near the turn of the century. By the turn of the century, Nashville had become the cradle of the Lost Cause of the Confederacy, as the first chapter of the United Daughters of the Confederacy was founded here and the Confederate Veteran magazine was published here. Most "guardians of the Lost Cause" lived near Centennial Park. At the same time, Jefferson Street became the historic center of the African-American community.
It remained so until the federal government s
Emmylou Harris is an American singer and musician. She has released dozens of albums and singles over the course of her career and won 14 Grammys, the Polar Music Prize, numerous other honors, including induction into the Country Music Hall of Fame. In 2018 she was presented the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, her work and recordings include work as a solo artist, a bandleader, an interpreter of other composers' works, a singer-songwriter, a backing vocalist and duet partner. She has worked with numerous artists. Harris is from a career military family, her father, Walter Harris, was a Marine Corps officer, her mother, was a wartime military wife. Her father was reported missing in action in Korea in 1952 and spent ten months as a prisoner of war. Born in Birmingham, Harris spent her childhood in North Carolina and Woodbridge, where she graduated from Gar-Field Senior High School as class valedictorian, she won a drama scholarship to the UNCG School of Music and Dance at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, where she began to study music, learn the songs of Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan and Joan Baez on guitar.
She dropped out of college to pursue her musical aspirations, moved to New York City, working as a waitress to support herself while performing folk songs in Greenwich Village coffeehouses during the 1960s folk music boom. She recorded her first album, Gliding Bird. Harris and Slocum soon divorced, Harris and her newborn daughter Hallie moved in with her parents in Clarksville, Maryland, a suburb near Washington, D. C. Harris soon returned to performing as part of a trio with Tom Guidera. In 1971, members of the country rock group the Flying Burrito Brothers saw. Instead, Hillman recommended her to Gram Parsons, looking for a female vocalist to collaborate with on his first solo album, GP. Harris toured as a member of Parsons's band, the Fallen Angels, in 1973, the pair shone during vocal harmonies and duets; that year and Harris worked on a studio album, Grievous Angel. Parsons died in his motel room near what is now Joshua Tree National Park on September 19, 1973, from an accidental overdose of drugs and alcohol.
Parsons's Grievous Angel was released posthumously in 1974, three more tracks from his sessions with Harris were included on another posthumous Parsons album, Sleepless Nights, in 1976. One more album of recorded material from that period was packaged as Live 1973, but was not released until 1982. Warner Brothers A&R representative Mary Martin introduced Harris to Canadian producer Brian Ahern, who produced her major label debut album, Pieces of the Sky, released in 1975 on Reprise Records; the album was eclectic by Nashville standards, including cover versions of the Beatles' "For No One", Merle Haggard's "Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down" and the Louvin Brothers' "If I Could Only Win Your Love". It featured "Bluebird Wine", a composition by a young Texas songwriter, Rodney Crowell, the first in a long line of songwriters whose talents Harris has championed; the record was one of the most expensive country records produced at the time, featuring the talents of James Burton, Glen Hardin, Ron Tutt, Ray Pohlman, Bill Payne, as well as two tracks that were cut with the Angel Band.
Two singles were released: "Too Far Gone", which charted at No. 73, Harris's first big hit, "If I Could Only Win Your Love", a duet with Herb Pedersen, which peaked at No. 4. Executives of Warner Bros. Records told Harris they would agree to record her if she would "get a hot band". Harris did so, enlisting guitarist James Burton and pianist Glen Hardin, both of whom had played with Elvis Presley as well as Parsons. Burton was a renowned guitarist, starting in Ricky Nelson's band in the 1950s, Hardin had been a member of the Crickets. Other Hot Band members were drummer John Ware, pedal steel guitarist Hank DeVito, bassist Emory Gordy, Jr. with whom Harris had worked while performing with Parsons. Singer-songwriter Crowell was enlisted as a rhythm duet partner. Harris's first tour schedule dovetailed around Presley's, owing to Burton and Hardin's continuing commitments to Presley's band; the Hot Band lived up to its name, with most of the members moving on with fresh talent replacing them as they went on to solo careers of their own.
Elite Hotel, released in December 1975, established that the buzz created by Pieces of the Sky was well-founded. Unusual for country albums at the time, which revolved around a hit single, Harris's albums borrowed their approach from the album-oriented rock market. In terms of quality and artistic merit, tracks like "Sin City", "Wheels", "Till I Gain Control Again", which weren't singles stood against tracks like "Together Again", "Sweet Dreams", "One of These Days", which were. Elite Hotel was a No. 1 country album and did sufficiently well as a crossover success with the rock audience. Harris appealed to those who disapproved of the country market's pull toward crossover pop singles. Elite Hotel won a Grammy in 1976 for Female. Harris's reputation for guest work continued, she contributed to albums by Linda Ronstadt, Guy Clark and Neil Young, she was tapped by Bob Dylan to perform on his Desi