Art & Entertainment

13-time Grammy Award Winner Emmylou Harris Talks About Her Dog Rescue Bonaparte’s Retreat and Performing on getTV’s “A Nashville Christmas”

Do you like to watch Christmas TV specials during the holidays?

I think what makes the holidays so much fun is there are so many festive activities and events for you to attend. From attending holiday craft shows to viewing Christmas lights in the city, there is always something to do to celebrate the holidays. Even television networks feature holiday festivities such as Christmas movies and special TV holiday concerts. It’s a great way to get into the holiday spirit with your family and friends.

One TV Christmas special you may be interested in watching, especially if you’re a big country music lover, is “A Nashville Christmas”. The music special will air on the getTV network Thursday, December 7th at 8 p.m. ET. Popular country music artists Wynonna Judd, Emmylou Harris, Lorrie Morgan, and Pam Tillis star in the Christmas show.


Interview with Emmylou Harris– Grammy-winning Country Music Singer & Songwriter

I had the amazing opportunity to chat with country music legend Emmylou Harris about “A Nashville Christmas” and her very special nonprofit dog rescue Bonaparte’s Retreat.

Emmylou is a 13-time Grammy winner. She recorded her first album in 1969 and has released many popular albums and singles over the course of her career.

In 1988, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. One of Emmylou’s most memorable recordings is a Christmas album, Light of the Stable, with its title track featuring backing vocals by Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and Neil Young.


On filming and performing in “A Nashville Christmas”, Emmylou said, 

“When we did the show, and we’ve been talking about it a lot, it’s come up about what makes this a Nashville Christmas and it actually made me realize Nashville is a pretty big city now. I don’t know what the population is, but when I moved here in ’83, and after I lived here for a few years, I felt there was kind of two Nashville’s kind of living side by side or somehow in a parallel universe: (1) the Nashville with the capital “N” and the capital of Tennessee.

“(2) But then there’s a little Nashville that is made up of the songwriters, and the artists, and the musicians– sort of the artistic community that we’re all kind of connected.”

Emmylou went on to say performing with the other artists was like being with family. “I know all of the artists participating in the show. We’ve known each other for years so in a sense it was almost like a family.”

With the closeness between the Nashville music community and connecting with the artists on the Christmas special, Emmylou said she feels this is what makes “A Nashville Christmas” so special. “I mean they don’t call it music city for nothing,” she said.

It was an honor to interview Emmylou, and I hope you enjoy reading the interview!


Emmylou Harris performs on “A Nashville Christmas” airing December 7th at 8 p.m. ET. | Photo courtesy getTV

Good Life Detroit (GLD): “A Nashville Christmas”— How did you get involved with the Christmas special?

Emmylou Harris (EH): One of the producer’s who’s a very old friend of mine– Bonnie Garner– she reached out to me. And also, they were wanting to involve a charity, and she knew that I have the 501(c)(3) dog rescue called Bonaparte’s Retreat and was offering to kind of support that and shine a light on it, as the show was being publicized. It was a good way to get the word out about animal rescue and have a good time singing Christmas songs and being around some of my pals. It was kind of a win-win situation.

GLD: You sing “A Coat of Many Colors” in the show. I was wondering, why did you choose to sing the song?

EH: Well, it’s my favorite Dolly Parton song. I did record it years ago, but I had not really thought of it as a Christmas song. We were kind of looking for another song to put into the show. And I had done it at a Christmas concert with Rufus Wainwright a few years ago. He said, ‘I wanna do that song. I think that’s a Christmas song.’ And so I can’t take credit for the idea.

[“A Coat of Many Colors”] seems to encompass, perhaps not the religious aspect of Christmas, but what Christmas is supposed to represent. And it’s such a sweet story about what should be important to us. We just decided to put into the Christmas category.

Emmylou and Wynonna perform a duet together in the Christmas TV special “A Nashville Christmas”. | Photo courtesy getTV

GLD: You sing a duet with Wynonna Judd– “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem”– and I had read that it is the first-ever duet with the both of you. Wynonna said that you are one of her first heroes. I wanted to ask you what was your experience like singing the duet with Wynonna?

EH: I think so. I did record “The Sweetest Gift” with her and Namoi (Judd) years ago. It probably was. If Wynonna says that was the first time we had done a duet, then that could be. She’s a delightful person to be around and a fantastic singer. Of course, we both recorded that song so it was nice for both of us to participate in it.

GLD: Can you tell me a little bit about Bonaparte’s Retreat?

EH: I started Bonaparte’s Retreat, and it’s in my backyard. It’s a very small shelter. We accommodate four dogs on the property, and then depending on how many people we can talk into fostering [the dogs], we rescue those [dogs]. We rescue almost exclusively from Metro Animal Control (in Nashville, Tennessee).

When we first started, there was a very high euthanization rate. People not spaying and neutering their pets and…I don’t know. Anyway, it’s gone down a lot– the euthanization rate– because there are a lot more small independent rescues, like Bonaparte, around Nashville.

But I think we’re all agreed, those of us who rescue here, even if there’s one dog or cat that’s put down because there’s just not a home for it, that’s one too many. And we’re working toward being a no-kill city. I’m hoping that Nashville can do that. They can put me out of business (laughs) because obviously dog rescue is not a for-profit business, you know. It’s where you put your money where your heart is and that’s where mine is.

“A Nashville Christmas” airs Thursday, December 7th at 8 p.m. ET on getTV. | Photo courtesy getTV


Special thanks to Emmylou Harris for speaking with Good Life Detroit about “A Nashville Christmas” and sharing information about her animal rescue Bonaparte’s Retreat.


“A Nashville Christmas” airs on Thursday, December 7, 2017, at 8 p.m. ET on getTV. You can check your program listings and watch clips of the show here.


To get more information about Emmylou’s nonprofit Bonaparte’s Retreat, visit the official website here.


getTV is a national TV network anchored by Sony Pictures Entertainment.




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