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Emmylou Harris is a country music icon and LGBTQ ally. This conversation took place when she performed at the 2012 HRC Nashville Equality Dinner.
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You've been known throughout the years as a consistent supporter of equality issues. Beyond your own personal convictions, why do you feel it's important to stand up and speak out in a public way?
Harris: When you are an artist and you have visibility, there are certain things you have an opportunity to do and, as you say, speak out. I don't understand why we're having problem, and why we all can't get along. So many friends of mine who have a different sexual persuasion are having these problems. I don't understand why they should be, why they have their lives made so difficult. It's so important if you feel as I do, and I think most people in this country feel that way, to speak out. There are so many other issues. Let's focus on poverty, war and hunger, and about killing animals and animal cruelty.
Emmylou Harris - Red Dirt Girl (Live at Farm Aid 2005) youtu.be
Many musicians say their sole responsibility is to entertain the audience and avoid delving into social and political issues. How do you feel about using your own celebrity as a platform for your causes?
Harris: For musicians that are successful artists, we are truly blessed to do the work we love and to make a living. I think it's our sacred responsibility to give back. When you have an opportunity you have to give back, as I do with an issue that's close to me---animal rights and working against animal cruelty and euthanasia. There are millions (of people) in this country and it takes everyone else involved in the issue to do something. The people involved at HRC do the heavy lifting. For the artists, it's such a small thing and such little effort to come join in. We add our voices to whatever we can do to put a little muscle to the issue, and speak out (to make others) think about it.
What are your thoughts on anti-gay legislation that has put Tennessee into the national spotlight?
Harris: I believe one day it's just gonna go away like segregation. I think the new generation is going "What? What is this all about?" We all have friends that deal with this problem, and it shouldn't be a problem. This generation, and all the people I associate with, you get surprised by it when you realize that this is still going on. It seems to me everyone in this world should have a right for happiness or peace wherever they can. We're all in the same boat: we all lose people in our lives and we all suffer heartbreak and we all have problems. Can't we just be kind to each other and respect each other? It seems sometimes so absurd to me that this is still an issue. We have real problems that affect everybody, and politicians and all of us as people have prejudices. But it's important to be decent and kind and respectful. Let people live their lives. That's what this country was based on, regardless of what some people would like you think.
Although you've often expressed your admiration for classic country artists such as George Jones and Merle Haggard, you also have a great ability to approach your music from a progressive perspective. Have you always had this inquisitive nature about different forms of music?
Harris: I think it's something that happened over a period of time. I became passionate about music during the folk renaissance when there was a big folk explosion. I got a guitar and began learning songs from Joan Baez, Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan. I also got into bluegrass then. Country came a little bit later with my work with Gram Parsons. I came to realize the beauty and poetry of country music through Gram. I kind of came through the side door, so I did things that maybe you weren't supposed to do. When I got the opportunity to make a major album with Reprise (Records), I did a song by Dolly Parton, one from the Beatles, one by Rodney Crowell. It seemed perfectly natural. It was all about the song. I don't have a traditional country type of voice. I read once that style is a product of your limitations. If everybody could sing everything, then we wouldn't have Every voice is unique; every experience is unique. All those things come together different, and you make it your own. Music has brought a great deal of joy to my life, and I've had the chance hang out with musicians who are very compassionate and very interesting people.
Your numerous roles—social activist, animal rescue organizer, traditional country music torchbearer—seem to all involve people and projects that are hanging on the fringes of society. What draws you to these often compromised characters?
Harris: You could say the same for so many artists. It's just part of what we should be doing. We couldn't do it without the organizations that are already out there. As artists, our time is mainly put into work and our creative work. (For these causes) we just show up and take the applause. (laughs) There have been huge gains on this issue, but a lot of work left to do.
Emmylou Harris & The Nash Ramblers on Austin City Limits "Roses In the Snow" (1993) youtu.be
You're renowned as one of country's greatest interpreters of songs, but recent albums have included many of your own compositions. Was it a concerted effort to do so?
Harris: I wouldn't say it comes naturally. (laughs). After I made Wrecking Ball, which was produced by Daniel Lanois (U2, Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson), he said that I really needed to write. About the same time, Guy Clark told me "You need to write your next record." I knew that it was time for me to head on a different path; you have to keep yourself fresh. So then I made Red Dirt Girl, and then I had a few songs on Stumble Into Grace and All I Intended to Be. I decided I really needed concentrate on the writing.
You've recently been nominated for a Grammy Award for your album, Hard Bargain. What does that recognition mean at this stage of your career?
Harris: It means I can keep working. (laughs) I can't imagine ever not working. I have no sense of retiring. Willie Nelson said once, "All I do is play music and play golf. Which one do you want me to give up?" I have continued to work all these years and go down different paths. I'm kind of out in left field. There's plenty of room out there!
The major-label system is so different from when you first made an album.
Harris: It's a very different world. With the internet and all this technology, people are being able to make records in their bedrooms. There's a freedom now, and a different way of accessing music. I was very fortunate when I came to the forefront. I had a really good label with Reprise. They had huge-selling artists, but the people that ran the label also liked artists that wouldn't sell millions but had a strong fanbase. They didn't make a distinction between artist. It wasn't a horse race that you couldn't win. Now I'm with a wonderful label in Nonesuch Records, and it's brought my music back to a beautiful place where you don't live and die by radio. They give you complete freedom to what you want; they're music junkies and really smart businessmen. I couldn't be with a better bunch.
Get the latest Emmylou Harris music and info here.
For those with a thirst to celebrate, Red Bull Unlocked is the key. In city after city, the most exciting bars, clubs, mixologists, performing artists, and more take over a local landmark building to showcase their signature ambiance while also collaborating for a must-see mashup. And now it's Music City’s turn to seize the spotlight, as the event brings 10 bars together in East Nashville’s Five Points neighborhood.
Fueled by the best of Nashville’s thriving music scene, Red Bull Unlocked has curated an eclectic night of show-stopping entertainment performances including a pop-up Whiskey Jam show, DJ sets, musicians, and more. The full lineup is here:
- Whiskey Jam (feat. Dozzi, Willie Shaw, and Johnny Hayes)
- A.B. Eastwood
- Daisha / Rap Girl
- Boom Bap (DJ Collective feat. DJ-Rate, Case Bloom)
- Whiskey Disco (DJ Collective feat. Coach, Jim O'Shea)
- Old Crow Medicine Show’s Jerry Pentercost (DJ Set)
- DJ Stretch
- DJ Griffin Green
- The Play Mates (Drag Show feat. Sasha, Vanity, Deception, Aura Mayari, Corlis Todd, and Carmin Triple C)
Counting down to the epic celebration, Daisha shares, “I never thought I’d have the opportunity to perform in so many of Nashville’s top spots all in the same night. Fans can expect a lot of bops and high energy. I want people to dance and have a good time.”
Ward Guenther, Whiskey Jam Founder, adds, “Red Bull has been enjoyed at Whiskey Jam since the very first night, so it's only fitting Whiskey Jam is enjoyed at Nashville's first Red Bull Unlocked. Looking forward to this!”
Red Bull Unlocked Istanbul
Photo courtesy of Red Bull
Local favorites including Pearl Diver, Tin Roof, Lipstick Lounge, White Limozeen, and more will join forces for one epic night. Full list of bars and partners below:
- The Dive Motel
- Lipstick Lounge
- Pearl Diver
- Play Dance Bar
- Rosemary & Beauty Queen
- The Stage
- Tin Roof
- Whiskey Jam
- White Limozeen
- Woolworth Theatre – Opening Fall 2022!
- Eleven Eleven - Opening 2023!
Date: August 21, 2022
Time: 6 PM – 11PM CT
Location: 1102 Forrest Ave, Nashville, TN 37206
Entrance: Ticked event
Rumble Boxing, the boxing-inspired group fitness studio, opened its doors for the first time in Nashville on June 20 at 609 Overton St, Nashville, TN. The hottest workout on the block is hosting its official grand opening from August 4th-7th with daily classes, membership specials, and prizes from local vendors. The new Rumble Boxing studio is currently offering a buy one class, get one free promotion for the Nashville community.
Rumble Boxing delivers 45-minute, 10-round, strength and conditioning group workouts, crafted around teardrop-style aqua boxing bags and high-intensity strength training circuits. This brings all fitness levels together to experience what Rumble is known for: combining the sweet science of boxing with high energy and positive vibes.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
This boutique fitness brand offers serious benefits like increased stamina and strength, with cardio that’s actually fun. The seasoned trainers at the new studio are thrilled to serve their local community while offering this fun, new modern approach to boxing and welcome members of all fitness levels to the Rumble family.
The new Rumble Boxing studio is owned and operated by Blake Baskin and Antonio Compton. With their background in the fitness industry, this dynamic duo is excited to bring their passion for boxing and group fitness to Nashville. As business and life partners, Blake and Antonio aim to create a strong community within their new Rumble Boxing studio and share their message of non-apologetic inclusivity.
Black and Gay-Owned Business
Rumble Boxing Store with Dolly Parton Mural
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“We own who we are, and this brand aligns with that perfectly,” said Antonio. “This is what we want to create and bring to this community: a fitness class that is designed for anyone and a place for people to be who they are. As a Black and gay-owned business, we want to help lower the division we see in the world right now. Our goal is to bring people together through Rumble, set everything aside, and have fun.”
To echo their message of acceptance and inclusion, Blake and Antonio commissioned a local Nashville artist to paint an 11 X 6-ft. mural of Nashville icon and philanthropist, Dolly Parton. The massive portrait features the country star in Rumble Boxing gear in the lobby of the studio.
The excitement and buzz around Rumble allowed Blake and Antonio to recruit top-tier trainers to head up the new studio, including Head Trainer Oronde Jones, a well-known celebrity trainer in the Nashville market.
Rumble Boxing Fitness Studio
Photo courtesy of Rumble Boxing Gulch Nashville
“Compared to other fitness classes, Rumble is a class you can truly get lost in for 45 minutes. With the dark room, you don’t have to worry if anyone is paying attention to you. The music is awesome and inspiring, and the beat drops right when you need it the most. Also, with boxing being a sport you can never truly master, you’re always improving and crafting your skill. On the floor, you’re consistently doing something new, which prevents you from ever hitting a plateau.” Said Oronde Jones about his favorite part of Rumble.
Rumble has massive brand loyalty and widespread appeal, partly thanks to attracting top names like Justin Bieber, Selena Gomez, Kendall Jenner, Hailey Baldwin, Jason Derulo, David Beckham, and Kevin Hart to its studios.
About Rumble Boxing
Founded in New York City in 2017, Rumble is a group fitness concept delivering a mix (or combination) of boxing-inspired circuits and the transformative power of resistance training. Pro and amateur fighters glove up together, no matter their fitness level or skill, to reveal their inner fighter. The experience is a 45-minute, 10-round, full-body cardio and strength workout crafted around specially designed water-filled, teardrop-style boxing bags. Rumble was founded by Noah Neiman (former Barry’s Bootcamp Master Trainer, and cast member of Bravo’s Work Out New York), Eugene Remm (Co-Founder of Catch Hospitality Group (Catch Restaurants, CATCH STEAK, Lexington Brass), Andy Stenzler (Co-Founder Cosí, Kidville), and Anthony DiMarco (13-time IRONMAN, former Managing Director, Google).
Who would have thought that we would have to get through a pandemic in order to appreciate the small things we have, such as the ability to simply pack our bags and hit the road?
For two years, there’s been nothing left for us travel junkies to do but sit at home and try to find new destinations that we will conquer once we defeat what appears to be the biggest villain of the 21st century. But once that happens, hold your bags tight because we will be up for some of the most interesting travel experiences. Take a look at some ideas for your post-COVID traveling plans:
A Gay Cruise
One of the best options to have in mind when all of this passes is a good, nice and long (pun intended) gay cruise. Or cruise in general, for that matter. Bear in mind, social distancing will still be a thing in the post-COVID world. But COVID-19 likely doesn’t mean that cruises will cease to exist. On the contrary, though cruise ships will probably keep the number of passengers smaller than before, it is believed that they will become an even bigger hit in the following period, especially because they are all going to go a lot more environmentally-friendly. On the bright side, is there any better way of celebrating the end of the pandemic than by cruising around some magnificent seas, stopping by at great cities and having romantic dinner nights at nice restaurants?
A getaway in nature
On the other hand, there is always the option of stepping away from the hustle and bustle of large cities, and spending some time in a place that’s not only healthy, but also beautiful. Some of the destinations that plenty of people will look for are the ones that can cater for both peace of mind and amazing things to see or do. One such destination is New Zealand, one of the greenest countries on Earth right now. Not only will you be visiting the magnificent country that gave us the beautiful Shire from Lord of the Rings; this is also a destination that’s excellent for everyone who prefers relaxing to partying. If you’re up for some partying, you will be able to hit Auckland, while if you’re for something calmer, there’s plenty of amazing places that you can see and visit.
Dancing Around at Pride
Pride parades are also events that you want to have in mind for the post-COVID world. Such events have always been quite important, but it seems that they are now more important than ever. The virus has canceled more than 75 Pride parades all around the world, which is one of the reasons why we must support the ones that will see the light of day once the pandemic stops. Truth be told, the upcoming Prides will perhaps be the best Prides ever organized. Give the gays a couple of weeks of quarantine, then let them outside and see what kind of party they are able to throw!
A road trip
If you’re, as well, waiting for the day to wake up and say “long gone are the days when we were not allowed to go wherever we wanted?”, and if staying at one place gave you a lot to think about, then your first post-COVID travel experience should definitely be a nice road trip. You can practically choose which country you want to tour, and you can either take your own car (you have probably missed it so much), or rent one at your destination. Australia is an amazing country for this, though, as it offers the possibility of seeing the Great Ocean Road, which is an amazing thing to see and experience. On the other hand, if you do not want or cannot leave your country, you can also choose to go on a domestic road trip – there are amazing things to see in your vicinity as well.
Holiday for a single guy
If you’re single, or you’re traveling someplace with another single friend, then you should definitely organize a nice vacation for yourself or for you and your single friend, and hit one of the best European cities. Europe has been greatly affected by the virus, which means that now it’s time to pay it back and get it back on its feet by traveling there and seeing all the amazing things it offers. Any city you choose in Europe – you will not make a mistake. Apart from being able to see great landmarks, you will also have the chance to have a drink at great gay clubs and pubs, and join unforgettable gay parties. And if the gay scenery is not your forte, worry not, as Europe indeed has to offer so many different and magnificent things.