At the start of her recording career, Emmylou Harris performed at numerous places in and around Washington, D.C. She returned there this week, but took center stage in a very different venue. Harris joined fellow recording artists Patti LaBelle, Sheryl Crow, Herbie Hancock and will.i.am, appearing before Congress to lobby for legislation which would require radio stations to pay artists and musicians when their recordings are broadcast. The bills, known as the Performance Rights Act, are being co-sponsored in the House and the Senate by four Tennessee legislators.

The Performance Rights Act would compensate musicians for the public use of their material. Other nations around the world have already enacted such legislation, and American stations routinely pay royalties to the songwriters who created the material, but radio stations oppose the measure. A representative for the Free Radio Alliance issued a statement, saying "the artist is in essence an employee of the label and is supposed to be paid by the label."

The artists were appearing on behalf of musicFIRST, an organization representing performers on legislative issues. Founding artists of musicFIRST include Terri Clark, Tim McGraw, Toby Keith, Don Henley, Big & Rich, Brooks & Dunn, George Jones, Gretchen Wilson and Martina McBride.