George Jones. The Louvin Brothers. Merle Haggard. Keith Richards.
There were a lot of influences on the late country rock visionary Gram Parsons, member of several iconic bands including The Byrds and The Flying Burrito Brothers.
Parsons' contributions to this world changed the way people looked at three genres of music (country, rock and R&B), ultimately marrying them together in what he dubbed Cosmic American Music.
At 21, he changed the way the Byrds approached their music with his contributions to their seminal Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, a flop at the time that is now regarded as ground zero for the marriage of country and rock.
Parsons never had a hit record, but he and his exquisite, ethereal music had a very influential relationship on his musical soulmate, Emmylou Harris.
For a substantial part of his brief journey through this world, he would mentor Harris musically, harmonize with her beautifully and tour with her relentlessly. Parsons created a style of alt-country music that not only survived him, but still lives on in the works of artists like Steve Earle, Jim Lauderdale and Lucinda Williams.
Harris added her remarkable country-inflected soprano to Parsons’s two solo albums (1973's GP and '74's Grievous Angel), landmarks in country rock which made him the "greatest cult figure in contemporary music," according to Rolling Stone magazine.
After Parsons’ death at 26, Harris carried his vision forward, first in Pieces of the Sky (1975), which included her tribute to Parsons (“From Boulder to Birmingham”). She has issued a remarkable string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful recordings, and has just re-released her self-penned album from 1985, the Ballad of Sally Rose.
For Harris to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 2008 - and earn the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award 10 years later - speaks volumes about Parsons' influence on the former folk singer - and validates both his and her legacies.
With Hearts On Fire - A Tribute to Gram & Emmylou, we celebrate their relationship, their individual volumes of work and their dedication to making the music we love shine all the more brightly.