Brandi Carlile has raked in the most nominations at this year’s Grammys. The 37-year-old artist has a total of six nominations, including three nods in the Big 4 Categories.
Just who is Brandi Carlile? What should we know about her? Read on.
1. She’s the Most Nominated Female at This Year’s Grammys
This year, Brandi is nominated in six categories at the 61st annual Grammy Awards.
Speaking to Billboard about how she feels knowing that, Carlile recently said, “Dude. Somebody just told me that, in those terms, and I’m honestly in such disbelief, I don’t even know how to speak to it. Wow — what a dream come true. What an honor.”
Asked how she found out about her nominations, she explained, “[My publicist] Asha called me at 5:30 in the morning and woke me up. I’m on the West Coast. She told me, and I couldn’t even understand what was going on. I can’t even believe it — even right in this very moment.”
Carlile says she celebrated by having the twins over– they are her co-writers and backup musicians.
2. She Dropped out of High School to Pursue Her Music Career
Carlile grew up singing country music. She tells the LA Times, “As soon as my parents would leave the house I would go in my room and put on her records and just sing loud, just trying to hit all the notes that she could sing…”
She cites Elton John as her greatest hero of all time. The two ended up collaborating together on the song “Caroline”.
In 2004, Carlile signed with Columbia Records. She released tracks that she had been working on at home one year later. In total, Carlile has released seven albums: Brandi Carlile, The Story, Give Up the Ghost, Bear Creek, and The Firewatcher’s Daughter. Her latest album, By the Way, I Forgive You, received critical acclaim upon being released in 2018. It debuted at #5 on the Billboard 200.
3. She Came Out in a November 2002 Interview
In a November 2002 interview, Carlile came out identifying as a lesbian.
She is married to a woman named Catherine Shepherd, whom she met through a previous job working for Paul McCartney. Carlile tells Richmond Magazine, “She was the charity coordinator for Paul McCartney for the past 10 years. Through my foundation, she took up an interest in one of our campaigns and offered to donate some materials from Paul McCartney’s foundation to auction off and raise money for my campaign. We spoke a lot over email. A while later, she came over to the United States to do some work for Paul in New York City, and we met backstage at one of our shows.”
Shepherd is also a musician– she sings and plays guitar, and the two “jam at home” frequently. Will it lead to an official collaboration? Likely not, Carlile says, “… it doesn’t really go any further than that. We do really enjoy playing and singing together.”
4. She and Her Wife Have a Daughter Named Evangeline
In 2014, Carlile and Shepherd welcomed their daughter, Evangeline Ruth Carlile, into the world. In February 2018, they announced they were expecting their second child. Elijah was born on March 18, 2018.
Carlile’s song, shown above, “The Mother”, is about motherhood. Asked by Shondaland.com if she always wanted to have a child, Carlile explained:
[Yes], and when I turned 30, it got super intense. I thought I was gonna be carrying, and when that ended up not being the case, it was a whole different set of surprises and curveballs and things to learn from. And it’s been really quite the journey as a mom, but also a journey as a gay mom, specifically, because there are some really serious differences that I wasn’t quite prepared for… It’s different, I think, to have kids when you’re gay. We’re always gonna be a little bit different. And there is an emotional reconciliation that comes with being a woman that didn’t carry your own child, whether you’re gay or straight. It’s a complicated thing, and a beautiful thing, and something worth writing about and something worth listening to.
And what does Evangeline think of the song? Carlile says, “She loves it. She said to me, ‘Mom, who’s the lady that trashed your car?’ [laughs] And I’m like, ‘That would be you, punk.’ And she’s like, “I didn’t trash your car, you’re not talking about me in that verse, you’re saying she.” And I was like, “Yeah, I’m talking about you.”
5. She Is the Founder of the ‘Looking out Foundation’
As Shondaland notes, Carlile has been an activist for years, and in 2008, she founded the Looking Out Foundation, which gives financial support to causes she believes in.
Her latest album, By the Way, I Forgive You, incorporates some of her political beliefs into her lyrics. Asked what it was about this moment that made her decide to start incorporating politics into her songwriting, Carlile explained, “I think politics are affecting people more emotionally than they ever have. And I think it has to do less with politics and more with things that we are politicizing in this country. We should not be politicizing children, we should not be politicizing refugees, we should not be politicizing all of these loaded, dignified, private, and compassion-based issues, because it’s just dehumanizing to people. It should never be up for debate whether or not we are going to welcome children that are experiencing conflict abroad.”
While Carlile is the founder of her own organization, she has donated to a number of others, like the American Diabetes Association, Honor the Earth, The Bridge School, and UNICEF, among others. She has raised over $675,000 to War Child UK to date.