Emmylou Harris Says She Still Gets Nervous Before a Show: ‘It's Sort of a Leap of Faith for Me’ (Exclusive)

Emmylou Harris opened up to PEOPLE at the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's 2023 All for the Hall New York Benefit on Tuesday in New York City

<p>Jason Kempin/Getty</p> Emmylou Harris

Jason Kempin/Getty

Emmylou Harris

Even Emmylou Harris gets nervous before a show!

The music legend and Country Music Hall of Famer, 76, opened up to PEOPLE about her pre-performance butterflies on Tuesday, before taking the stage at a benefit for the Country Music Hall of Fame Museum.

Asked whether she gets nervous before getting behind the mic, Harris tells PEOPLE: “I probably do, but I just figure it doesn't do much good. It's sort of a leap of faith for me."

“I just sort of get up there and I also find that audiences are very forgiving,” Harris continues. “If you're not in the best voice or if you forget a lyric, they're not going to ask for their money back. I think if you are enjoying yourself, usually the audience is enjoying themselves.”

Harris was joined on stage at the benefit, held at Irving Plaza, New York City, by fellow country stars Ashley McBryde, Carly Pearce and Vince Gill — each who took turns in performing their hits. 

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<p>Jared Siskin/Getty</p> Emmylou Harris

Jared Siskin/Getty

Emmylou Harris

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It's not the first time Harris has attended the benefit, which kicked off in 2005 when fellow Country Music Hall of Fame member Gill suggested that country artists give an annual performance to raise money.

“I mean, it works very well,” Harris tells PEOPLE of the benefit, praising it for its relaxed setting, diverse talent pool and the fact that the audience never knows which songs will be performed.

“Vince just said, ‘Well, we'll just start having these in the rounds every year to raise money.’ And I was at the first one and I pretty much, I think I've done every one with Vince," Harris recalls. "I've missed them actually because it's a performance, a gathering, that I really enjoy.”

<p>Chris Walter/WireImage</p> Emmylou Harris in 1977

Chris Walter/WireImage

Emmylou Harris in 1977

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Harris has released 22 solo albums in her 54 years in the business, and is credited with being one of the leading artists behind both the country rock and Americana genres, connecting California rock and Nashville country together. She's inspired a sea of stars over the years, with The Chicks, Patty Loveless, Trisha Yearwood, Patty Griffin and Lucinda Williams among the many artists who have cited her by name as a career guidepost.

As for the future of country music, Harris tells PEOPLE that she thinks “we're in pretty good hands,” and that many of the new generation of country singers have “great voices” and “good writing.”

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