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Chatting with Emmylou Harris

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Tags: Music, Holidays

To preview her upcoming Christmas special A Nashville Christmas, getTV’s very first original featuring WynonnaPam Tillis and Lorrie Morgan, I recently sat down with Emmylou Harris to chat all things Christmas and of course all-things-Nashville. 

A Nashville Christmas is airing Thursday, December 7 at 8:00 PM on getTV.

EN: What was it like being a part of your upcoming Christmas special with Pam Tillis, Wynonna, and Lorrie Morgan? What can we expect? 

Emmylou: Well a bunch of us singing some favorite songs and maybe some songs that might surprise people. There's a real sense of camaraderie in this town. I mean I've been a longtime friend of Pam, Lorrie and Wynonna, and all of the folks in the band. I was able to bring friends along who do a lot of touring with me, to add their beautiful harmonies and the songs that I was able to do. And it's Christmas, so what's not to love?

EN: Speaking of that speaking of Christmas what are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? 

Emmylou: Eating (laughs) Yeah.I love wrapping presents. I just love doing it. I even love saving the paper from year to year and seeing how far I can get. I don't know. It almost becomes a contest with me -- I don't know where that comes from. But really, it's just all about family. Getting the tree, it's great. I also have a lot of people over. Ever since I've been in Nashville I have a lot of people who are friends who might not have those traditions or have any place to go, as well as family. I have a brother and two of his children and seven of his grandchildren that live in Nashville.

They'll all be at my house with their spouses, and then lots of friends. And so it's just about a gathering. Everyone in the family kind of has their specialty that they make so that I don't have to do much. And I have a wonderful family they all clean up everything. I don't even have to wash a dish. It's the best. I have a very, very, very, well-trained family.

EN: Do you have a specialty that you cook?

Emmylou: I make something that I actually don't like but everybody else does. It's a casserole that came from a family long ago, potluck church thing. One of those things you make in one pan with mushroom soup. And everybody just loves it. And, ugh, I won't eat it.

EN: That's so kind of you to think of the others (laughs). Do you have a favorite Christmas song to perform?

Emmylou: Well oddly enough I wouldn't say that normally. But on this special, we were kind of looking around for another song for me to do. And, I had performed this Dolly Parton song a few years ago for another Christmas event with my friends the McGarrigles, on the McGarrigle Christmas show that they do every few years: "The Coat of Many Colors". It was Rufus Wainwright's idea that we did together. So I suggested we do the song -- it was always my favorite Dolly Parton song, and now it's going to enter into one of my favorite Christmas songs. 

EN: I don't normally think of "Coat of Many Colors" as a Christmas song?

Emmylou: It talks about the things that we're supposed to focus on Christmas beyond the religious aspect. What Christmas is, bringing out the best in us, what's important, and what our priorities should be. And a sense of family. So yeah I'm a sucker for it.

EN: Do you have any Nashville specific holiday traditions you like to celebrate?

Emmylou: A few times, I've actually performed the Opry at the Ryman over Christmas. That that was always special. It's wonderful to do the Opry at that time, especially when it's at the Ryman, which is one of my favorite venues. 

Speaking of venues, where is your favorite place to catch live music in town?

EN: Emmylou: There are a lot of good places around. Obviously, the Bluebird is very special has been there a long time and the Ryman. I mean, that place reeks of history and it sounds fantastic. As long as you bring something to sit on -- with those hard benches you need to bring your own cushion. But the sound is great! City Winery has become a great place to have music and have a good meal as well, and I perform there quite a bit.

EN: Let's talk food. If you are going out to a special meal for a date night or a special meal out where would you like to go?

Emmylou: I well don't eat out a lot, but, there is a great Lebanese restaurant on 12th called Epice. Great spot. Oh, and Donut Den, another great place to eat. Don't forget about Bobbie's Dairy Dip for a nice ice cream, too.

EN: What about some of your favorite spots to shop?

Emmylou: I love Two Old Hippies in the Gulch. And I've been going to Pangea even before it was in the Hillsboro Village. I love going to Serendipity. I tell you though, for great Christmas shopping, is 10000 Villages. They have all these products that are made around the world, and all the money goes to help the people in these countries. They make this beautiful pottery and fabrics and just things you wouldn't think of. 

EN: One last question for you: How would you say Nashville has impacted you, both personally and professionally?

Emmylou: Oh, it's a wonderful place to live. I mean getting back to that idea of the smaller community, it's so rooted in the songwriter and the and the artist and all about the song which is where it all gets back to. Without a good song, where would any of us be? And, the wonderful musicians and the people who make music because they love it. Hopefully, that will never change.

Since I've been in Nashville, I actually started an animal a dog rescue in my backyard called Bonaparte's Retreat. We have a wonderful community here that is really trying to ultimately make Nashville no-kill city for animals. And I really think we might do it because people here have a big heart.

Thanks for the chat, Emmylou. Can't wait to get into the holiday spirit with you, Pam, and Lorrie! See you this Thursady for A Nashville Christmas.