Emmylou Harris is a multi-Grammy award winner and a Country Music Hall of Fame inductee. She has worked with musicians including Gram Parsons, Bob Dylan, Dolly Parton and Neil Young. While Harris has found success, she believes it is equally as important to give back and to collaborate with others. We talked with Harris six years ago about working collaboratively with other artists and why she feels blessed to be a musician.
For the director of music. Of David the servant of the Lord. He sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said: I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise, and I have been saved from my enemies.” Psalm 18:1-3
Harris shares that even though she has been successful as an artist, she still finds the need to be collaborative with other artists.
“It just happens. I think the point where I really became an ‘artist’ and found my own voice was working with Gram Parsons so that was a collaboration that started me as a harmony singer. I developed this love for harmony, and then my harmony partner was no longer there. So I just had to take that road on my own, but then I met up with Rodney Crowell, Ricky Skaggs, and of course Dolly [Parton] and Linda [Ronstadt] and all the different people that I’ve been able to sing with over the years. I think most singers love to harmonize. For a while you weren’t supposed to sing with people on other labels, but now everybody is singing with everybody. And everybody wins in that situation. People like sitting in and collaborating, it’s more fun. You can make music by yourself, but it’s certainly so much more fun to make music with other people.”
“Instead, be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Ephesians 5:18-20
Harris reflects on the impact her music has had on others and why she feels blessed to be a musician.
“I just feel lucky…to have work that I love. To be able to make a living doing something that you love, and after all these years I still love it. I’m still inspired by it, the inspiration, who knows where it comes from- but it still comes. Those of us who make our money making music, we feel so blessed and so lucky, sometimes it seems unfair and [that is why] the opportunity to give back actually means a great deal to me. I know my other friends do the same thing- lend their names, and their talent, and their time. We need to do that because we’ve been so lucky to have this gift that was recognized enough to where we can actually make a living at it. It doesn’t happen for everybody. There are a lot of talented people that it just doesn’t happen for-and with me a lot of it was just dumb luck.”
Collaborate. Whether it is making music, working on a school projects or a presentation at work, we are presented with situations where we can work individually or we can collaborate. When you collaborate, it gives you the opportunity to learn from other people and you can sharpen one another’s skills and ideas. The end result is typically better than if you worked solo. There is the potential for conflict or differing opinions, but see those as opportunities as well. Proverbs 27:17 says, “As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another.” When knives are sharpened there is always some friction, but the end result is a sharper more effective cutting instrument.
Make a joyful noise. You don’t have to be a Grammy-award winning artist to praise the Lord. Take time this week to listen to worship music and praise God. Check out if your church or local ministry has an upcoming worship night and invite your friends or small group to meet up. If the weather is nice, head to a scenic overlook and worship God under the starts. Instead of the usual drive to work or school, listen to worship music and pray. Ask God to give you vision for how He wants you to reach your co-workers, classmates and friends for Christ. Don’t be afraid of hitting the right notes, God just wants us to worship Him. Worship shouldn’t be confined to the church. You can worship in your car, in the shower, or while you clean the dishes.
Give back to others. You don’t have to be famous to give back to others. It can be volunteering with a ministry at church, mentoring someone in their career, or using your contacts to help an organization. Ask God how he wants you to be using your time, talent and treasure to give back to others. It might be locally through your church or another organization or it might be international. It might be to a large group or just one individual. Remember not to compare yourself to others and what they are doing, just be obedient to what God has laid on your heart through the Holy Spirit.
To read our entire interview with Emmylou Harris here