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Brandi Carlile

Explore Brandi Carlile

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About Brandi Carlile

Spell-binding, Grammy award-winning, trailblazing songstress Brandi Carlile has captivated audiences since her early days as a budding musician in the Seattle music scene. Since then, Carlile has skyrocketed: becoming not just an essential and pinnacle voice in Americana and folk-rock, but also as an activist and hero for the LGBTQ+ community, activist for women's rights, and supporter of grassroots campaigns and charities. Born on June 1, 1981, in Ravensdale, Washington, Carlile developed a deep love for music at an early age, setting the stage for a remarkable career that would earn her critical acclaim, numerous awards, and a dedicated fanbase. From the beginning of her musical journey, Carlile's talent was evident. She released her self-titled debut album, "Brandi Carlile," in 2005, a year after being signed to Columbia Records. She dropped out of high school to pursue music, where she linked up with twins Tim and Phil Hanseroth. The album showcased her raw, emotive vocals and a blend of folk, country, and rock influences. It received critical acclaim and introduced the world to Carlile's signature style, which stood out as a refreshing reignition of a familiar, organic sound. The album's standout tracks, including "What Can I Say" and "Throw It All Away," demonstrated her ability to craft deeply personal and introspective songs even at a young age. Deft with storytelling, her lyrical prowess sets her apart in the world of Americana. The album earned enthusiastic reviews; she was featured on Rolling Stone's "10 Artists to Watch in 2005" list, and other "artist to watch" lists by Interview and Paste. In 2005, her debut record peaked at No. 80 on the Billboard 200 and reached No. 1 on the US Folk Albums chart. In 2007, Carlile released her sophomore album, "The Story." This album became a breakthrough moment for her career. With its title track becoming an anthem for self-discovery, unconditional love, and resilience, the album resonated with listeners on a profound level. "The Story" propelled Carlile into the mainstream and earned her widespread recognition. The album's success led to appearances on late-night talk shows and an opening slot for the legendary Elton John. Throughout her career, Carlile continued to release critically acclaimed albums. "Give Up the Ghost" (2009), "Bear Creek" (2012), and "The Firewatcher's Daughter" (2015) further showcased her versatility as a songwriter and performer: songs like “The Eye” with stunning, listless harmony, to the powerful, poignant storytelling of “The Stranger at My Door”. Each album explored different musical territories, incorporating elements of rock, pop, and Americana while maintaining her distinctive sound. Carlile’s ability to connect with listeners through her honest storytelling has remained a constant throughout her transforming and growing discography. In 2008, Carlile and Tim and Phil Hanseroth established the Looking Out Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization to give financial support to and raise awareness of causes in which they believe. The foundation has awarded grants to multiple organizations including Reverb, Honor the Earth, the Bridge School, Children in Conflict, Black Visions Collective, Campaign Zero, the Women's Funding Alliance, Doctors Without Borders, and the Human Rights Campaign. The Looking Out Foundation has launched numerous grassroots campaigns including Looking Out for the Hungry, Fund Racial Justice, COVID-19 Relief Fund, the IF Project, Fight the Fear, and the Story Campaign. Carlile donates $2 from every concert ticket sale to the foundation. Carlile, who openly identifies as a lesbian, often uses her platform and power to call attention to LGBTQ+ and human rights. The artist’s music embodies and exemplifies our collective desires for freedom, hope, and resilience in desperate times; her activism reflects her careful attention to marginalized voices and challenges us to look inward. Her music explores themes of hope, heartbreak, womanhood, loss, and love, all of which can be enjoyed through lenses of womanhood or queer identity. She was married to her wife, Catherine Shepherd, in 2012, after meeting two years before through their charity work and activism. Married in Wareham, Massachusetts, Carlile has since reflected and expressed gratitude for Massachusetts and its progressivism regarding gay marriage laws, which did not become federally legalized until 2015. The two later had their first child, Evangeline, who is the subject of Carlile’s song “The Mother”, an honest and relatable ode to the challenges and glimmers of motherhood. "By the Way, I Forgive You," released in 2018, became a commercial and critical triumph. Songs like “The Mother” and “The Joke” showcased the songwriter’s proclivity for utter honesty and storytelling. The record reached number five on the Billboard 200 chart and earned Carlile six Grammy Award nominations. The album's lead single, "The Joke," earned her the Grammy Award for Best American Roots Performance and Best American Roots Song, solidifying her status as a force to be reckoned with in the Americana scene. Over the course of her career, Carlile has been recognized with numerous accolades. She has received six Grammy Awards, including three wins for Best American Roots Performance and Best Americana Album. In addition to her Grammy success, she has been honored with several Americana Music Association Awards, including the coveted Artist of the Year award in 2019. Carlile's impact as an artist extends beyond awards and accolades; she has become a voice for equality and social justice, using her platform to advocate for LGBTQ+ rights and other important causes. Beyond her solo work, Carlile has collaborated with other notable musicians, showcasing her versatility as a performer. In 2019, she formed the supergroup The Highwomen alongside fellow artists Amanda Shires, Maren Morris, and Natalie Hemby. The group released a self-titled album that received widespread acclaim for its empowering and diverse approach to country music: sounds and songs that pay homage to country legends while paving the way with their powerful, refreshing sound. Later, Carlile released the autobiography Broken Horses: A Memoir. The book debuted at No. 1 in non-fiction on the New York Times Best Seller list, regarded as an intimate and vulnerable recount of her faith through the lens of someone whose identity is often challenged and rejected in the church. The book has seen raving reviews. In 2022, Carlile played alongside folk legend Joni Mitchell as the closing act of the Newport Folk Festival. Mitchell's presence was an unannounced surprise, the performance was billed as "Brandi Carlile and Friends." This was Mitchell's first full-length performance since the early 2000s and her first appearance at the festival since 1969, which marked a magical and special moment in the Americana community. More recently, in January 2023, Carlile headlined the inauguration party for Massachusetts Governor Maura Healey, the first lesbian governor in the United States, and continues to bring her passion and brilliance to every performance and tour to date.

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