On January 24th, 2020, Emmylou Harris returned to UNCG for a Masterclass and Q&A before taking the stage at her alma mater that same night. The Masterclass began with Harris recalling her days as a theatre student at UNC-Greensboro and her times performing at The Red Door. “I was a serious student…” and her memories of her former professors were ever present as she remarked, “There is something to be said for a teacher who brings information and makes sure your mind doesn’t explode with curiosity. There were some good teachers here.” Even though Harris had left the University after about a year of studying, she wanted to ‘set the world on fire’ with her music.
“There wasn’t much a folk scene. ‘[But] Guy Phillips (a musician) told me of a Gibson Guitar [in Greensboro’s] downtown, which I bought for $35 dollars. I still have it.” And when asked on the boundaries between country music and folk music, Harris responded laughing, “Wait for the book for that!” As always, Harris has a great sense of humor and was making the audience laugh along with her as she joked with fans.
The advice she gave to current students was incredibly powerful, “Make [music] your own…Just do it… [And] so much is luck and hard work…” Harris also mentioned how artists getting together and playing is still significant to the music industry, and how nothing beats artists playing live and showing their unique abilities without the studio altering. Just like her songs, Harris is lyric driven and looks for lyrics to tell a story, similar to fiction. She also had excellent points on music education, “It’s been proven that studying music at a young age is important. And music can always lead to something else.”
The Masterclass and Q&A was moved from when the event was supposed to be held at the UNCG Auditorium (formerly known as Aycock Auditorium). The move was brought to attendees’ attention via Facebook, where the issues stated were of the sound system being ill equipped, and event goers were eventually turned away due to maximum capacity.
Once Emmylou took the “stage” and was seated in front of the crowd of many students, alumni, and fans. The more intimate setting for this event could not have been any more perfect. Emmylou made an unlikely agreement to have the event live streamed via Facebook for her fans to watch.