Doug Cox is bucking the trend by bringing a headliner back to MusicFest, but when Emmylou Harris said she was available, he didn’t hesitate.
Harris had a top billing at the 2012 Vancouver Island MusicFest. Five years later, she’s on her way back to the Comox Valley.
“As far as I’m concerned, she’s one of the most important people in the history of Americana music, so really… she can come back any time she wants to,” said Cox, the executive producer and artistic director of the annual summer festival held at the Comox Valley Exhibition Grounds. “If you look at her role, and the 13 Grammy Awards, and however many records she has made… to the fact that she kind of singlehandedly saved the Ryan Auditorium in Nashville, she is truly, one of the most important artists in the history of country music. And she fits right into the heart and soul of what MusicFest is.”
A 13-time Grammy winner and Billboard Century Award recipient, Harris’s contribution as a singer and songwriter spans 40 years. She has recorded more than 25 albums and has lent her talents to countless fellow artists’ recordings. Harris was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008.
Harris is known as much for her straightforward songwriting as for her expressive singing. Admired through her career for her talent as an artist and song connoisseur, Harris shook up country radio in the 1970s, and established herself as the premier songwriter of a generation, selling more than 15 million records and garnering 13 Grammy Awards (this year she and Rodney Crowell won the Grammy for Best Americana Album), three CMA Awards, and two Americana Awards.
She has recorded with such diverse artists as Linda Ronstadt, Daniel Lanois, Bob Dylan, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young, Gram Parsons, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Roy Orbison, Ryan Adams, Beck, Elvis Costello, Johnny Cash, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett and most recently Crowell.
The 2017 Vancouver Island MusicFest runs July 14-16.
Harris will be playing Friday night.
When she was here in 2012, Harris stayed for the entire three-day festival, taking in the acts and ambience.
“She stuck around for the whole weekend and she was actually taking in the festival, which really pleased me, because she was actually hanging out at all the stages,” said Cox.
Star-spotting is not uncommon at MusicFest. A couple of years ago, it was Lyle Lovett, camera in hand, going to the different stages taking photos of some of the live acts.
“It’s always nice to see when musicians are also music fans, but I have to say it’s not much of a surprise,” said Cox. “People like Lyle and Emmylou, they don’t get to where they are due to a lack of interest in music.
“We have a reputation within the music business now that makes these people want to come and hang out with their friends, who are attending the festival.”
Earlybird tickets for Vancouver Island MusicFest are nearly 75 per cent sold already. They are available at islandmusicfest.com
More major act announcements will be coming shortly, and the daily musical announcements will begin rolling out on the MusicFest website, beginning this week.
–With files from Vector Management