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Music legend Emmylou Harris to headline N.L. Folk Festival

Emmylou Harris performs on Banjo Stage during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.  (The Association Press - image credit)
Emmylou Harris performs on Banjo Stage during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022. (The Association Press - image credit)
Emmylou Harris performs on Banjo Stage during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.
Emmylou Harris performs on Banjo Stage during Hardly Strictly Bluegrass Festival at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, on Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022.

Emmylou Harris has been booked to perform at this summer's Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival, something artistic director Mary Beth Waldram calls a 'big swing.' (The Association Press)

Multiple Grammy-winning musician Emmylou Harris will be the headline act at this year's Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival.

Booking the singer-songwriter for the St. John's festival is a big deal, said the N.L. Folk Arts Society's artistic director, Mary Beth Waldram, on Thursday, the day Harris was announced.

"She's an icon. She's a legend. She's a prolific singer-songwriter and won several, several Grammys and nominations galore. She's just fabulous, yeah," Waldram told CBC News.

"And so it's just really, really exciting that an artist of this calibre and this level is coming to play Bannerman Park."

Harris has won 13 Grammys and sold an estimated 15 million records. In 2008 she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. Rolling Stone magazine put her on its 2022 list of the 200 greatest singers of all time.

How it happened

Waldram said Harris has a great booking agent and the process was easy — but it was still "nerve-racking and terrifying," with a lot of waiting to hear back on their booking request.

"From anywhere from two weeks to maybe a month or more, you're kind of just waiting, being like, 'come on, come on, come on,'" she said. "It's a big swing."

Waldram says she was at a Christmas party when she got the news they had booked Harris. She ducked into a bedroom to call the society's executive director to share the big news.

"We were all losing it. And then I emailed the board and everyone, like on a Friday night, was like writing back, being like, 'Oh my gosh,' so very excited. Lots of excitement, yeah."

It's also been a big secret to keep, she said.

"It's definitely like, not a weight in a bad sense," she said. "Finally it's out there and I get to see people's faces and hear their reactions and I really love that."

More to come

Waldram said she couldn't say who else will be taking to the stage this summer but that information will be revealed over the coming months.

In the past year, Mary Beth Waldram, 31, has been recognized by MusicNL, the East Coast Music Awards, and Women in Music Canada for her work in artist management.
In the past year, Mary Beth Waldram, 31, has been recognized by MusicNL, the East Coast Music Awards, and Women in Music Canada for her work in artist management.

Waldram says she was at a Christmas party when she learned they had booked Harris — and then she had to keep it a secret. (Ritche Perez)

The full list will be revealed April 10, she said, and the festival is already "98 per cent" booked up.

"It's going to be probably the biggest folk festival we have had, so we're really, really excited. Lots more workshops are going to be happening for those who like the daytime workshops and there's going to be lots more of that."

The 48th annual festival will take place July 12-14. Early bird tickets go on sale Feb. 15 and day passes go on sale April 10, she said.

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