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joined EmmyLou Harris in Ireland for a tour featuring Rodney Crowell and the Hot Band. I was surprised that the old taxi driver who picked me up at the Dublin airport knew who she was. As we travelled to Belfast, and then flew to Brussels, I learned that she played to even bigger audiences in Europe than in the United States, and every place was a sellout, including London's Albert Hall. In the lounge of the bus that took us to her concert in Paris, EmmyLou and I talked about whether this was because the United States is mainly a TV culture, and about how artists sometimes struggle between needing to work from their heart and also needing an audience.

I have to admit that her beauty presented a significant challenge. I had to shoot through it in order to photograph the meaning of her music. What makes a great singer is more than being beautiful and even more than having a voice from God.

It's hard work, and EmmyLou Harris works harder than just about anyone i've ever met to keep that voice connected to her soul. She is also simply, supremely commited to music. Every night on tour, Trisha Yearwood and Marty Stewart opened for her, and I would notice her leaning against the wall at the edge of the audience, listening to them carefully. For EmmyLou, music was compelling as the events that inspired it. "I was listening to Gavin Bryars' 'The Sinking of the Titanic,'" she told me one day. "Have you ever heard it? It's based on the final hymn the band was actually playing as the ship went down. Man! I sobbed through the whole thing."

© Nubar Alexaniun 1996, all rights reserved.