In her teens, she won a scholarship to study drama at college in North Carolina, but dropped out to pursue a singing career.
This is episode 9 of Caffe Lena 60 Years of Song. Thank you Sarah Craig for picking the artists and songs to showcase the special nature of the Caffe's history with music discovery.
In 1968, Emilylou Harris headed to New York's Greenwich Village, where she worked as a waitress by day and played gigs in the evenings. There she married her musician boyfriend Tom Slocum, and got a record deal. But her first album flopped, her label declared bankruptcy and her marriage foundered. By 1970, she was broke and bringing up her baby daughter Hallie by herself. It was a tough time. She was living on food stamps and working six nights a week in clubs, trying to support her daughter. She had pretty much given up on the idea of 'making it' by that point.
Within a couple years, she’d meet Gram Parson, and her career trajectory would change. In fact, even though their partnership lasted only a couple years, it left an indelible mark on music history. And now, it’s hard to imagine a time when Emmylou wasn’t the queen of the country ballad.
In all the years that the International Bluegrass Music Association has been handing out awards, no woman had ever even been nominated for guitarist of the year, until 2017. Molly Tuttle would go on to win the award - twice. She’s one of the newer, younger generation we get to discover in person thanks to Caffe Lena.
Since the very beginning, the Caffe has blazed the trail to artists who go on to become legend. Artists like Emmylou - and Molly Tuttle.
Caffe Lena: 60 Years of Song, a production of WEXT Radio.