Brandi Carlile: ‘I’m Just So Honored’ to Be in the Americana Music Community
Four-time Americana Music Awards nominee Brandi Carlile took home her first trophy -- in the coveted Artist of the Year category -- during the 2019 Americana Honors & Awards ceremony in September. During her acceptance speech, she took a moment to appreciate each of her fellow nominees.
"Rhiannon Giddens is one of the most important artists in our genre. I wanna say that Kacey Musgraves did something new and special, and that's really hard to do something new anymore," Carlile said from stage. Arguably her most resounding awe, however, was reserved for Artist of the Year candidate Mavis Staples: "I wanna say that Mavis Staples is not the artist of the year -- she is the artist of a lifetime. Mavis took a DNA test, turns out she's 100 percent that legend," she concluded (referencing the lyrics of pop / rap megahit "Truth Hurts" by Lizzo).
That Carlile used her time at the podium to talk about other artists -- particularly, other female artists -- should surprise exactly no one who has followed her career, both in 2019 and beyond. Earlier this year, for example, when she first began discussing her role in the supergroup the Highwomen, Carlile immediately stressed the band's mission statement of uplifting women's voices in country music.
"Our goal is simply to elevate all women and completely abandon the concept of competing with one another," she explained at the time. "So that we can let as many women through the door as possible, and give our girls those country music heroes that we all had."
That drive to uplift other artists plays out elsewhere in Carlile's career, too, such as in her role as producer of Tanya Tucker's new project, While I'm Livin', and Candi Carpenter's newest single, "The Astronaut." From emerging artists to living legends, Carlile works hard to champion the women in music in whom she believes.
Before the 2019 Americana Honors & Awards show, Carlile told The Boot that being around artists she was proud to support made the experience of being nominated even more exciting. "It makes it such a family reunion for me. Like, I am just so honored to be here," she reflected. "I would be honored to lose to any of these women."
Carlile also opined that the designation of "Americana" -- a genre that denotes not so much a particular style of music, but rather a collection of artists who don't quite fit into any one box -- helps to spotlight performers who might not otherwise get the recognition they deserve. "This genre is moving the needle and changing the conversation in a really good way," she says.
"It was designed as a place to recognize music that isn't being seen by the mainstream, and that gives it an element of being a game-changer," Carlile continues. "It's a genre that I like to call the Island of Misfit Toys, because so many of us that are called Americana are just American rock 'n' roll musicians, but maybe we don't fit in for one reason or another.
"Some people might find that insulting, but I find it to be a massive compliment," she offers. "I'm just so honored to be a part of this community."
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