Brandi Carlile: Acceptance in Americana ‘Has Been a Big Deal in My Life’
Brandi Carlile is one of Americana music's brightest stars these days, but she hasn't always felt that sort of love. The Seattle native, who is gay, faced plenty of hate and often felt like an outsider during her childhood, and at the 2019 Grammy Awards, she spoke about how finding her place in the music community -- and winning at the all-genre awards show -- has made her feel as though she belongs.
During Sunday's (Feb. 10) pre-telecast Grammy Awards Premiere Ceremony, Carlile picked up three Grammys trophies -- the first of her career -- in rapid succession. All in a row, the singer-songwriter won Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album. Onstage with collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth and producer Dave Cobb, Carlile read from a note that she'd written just in case she won one of the six categories in which she was nominated.
“Americana music is the island of the misfit toys. I am such a misfit. It is this music that has shaped my life and made me who I am, and even given me my family," Carlile reflected. "I came out of the closet at 15 years old, when in high school, and I can assure you that I never got invited to any parties, and never got to attend a dance.
"To be embraced by this community has been the dance of a lifetime," she added. "Thank you for being my island.”
2019 Grammy Awards: 5 Epic Country + Americana Moments
Backstage at the 2019 Grammy Awards, Carlile added to her comments. She's used the "island of misfit toys" analogy to describe Americana music before, and she says it comes from a place of love and gratitude.
"I feel like compartmentalization of genre is not entirely a good thing, but when it comes to genre, I'm really quite fond of the one that I come from, because I feel like it's a genre that looks around and notices people that aren't being seen everywhere else, and it picks out people that it feels doesn't have a place, and it gives them a platform," she shared. "The way that I've been embraced ... has been heartening to me as a gay kid from Seattle.
"It's been a big deal in my life," she continued, "and I appreciate it very much."
In 2019, Carlile was the most-nominated woman at the Grammy Awards. In addition to her three Americana wins, she was nominated for the all-genre Album of the Year (for By the Way, I Forgive You), Record of the Year (for "The Joke") and Song of the Year (for "The Joke") honors. She performed "The Joke" during the televised ceremony, bringing the crowd to its collective feet in approval.
See Brandi Carlile + Wife Catherine on the 2019 Grammy Awards Red Carpet