Brandi Carlile Biography
Brandi Carlile is an American singer, songwriter, and producer. Her music spans many genres, including folk rock, alternative country, Americana, and classic rock.
Brandi Carlile Career
Carlile is self-taught when it comes to music. She taught herself to sing when she was a child. When she was eight years old, she began singing country songs and performed Johnny Cash’s “Tennessee Flat Top Box” with her mother, Teresa Carlile. She also started playing the guitar and writing songs at age 15. Carlie later became a backup singer for an Elvis impersonator at 16 years old. After being introduced to the music of Elton John, Carlile taught herself to play piano, and at 17, she learned to play the guitar. She attended Tahoma High School but later dropped out to pursue her music career.
In 2005, she made her debut major label album, Brandi Carlile which was released to critical acclaim yet achieved limited commercial success. Her 2007 single “The Story” garnered wider recognition. “The Story” was awarded Gold status by the RIAA for selling 500,000 copies in 2017. During the same year, she released Cover Stories, featuring 14 artists covering tracks from the original The Story album including Dolly Parton, Pearl Jam, and Adele, it debuted at No. 30 on the Billboard 200.
All proceeds benefited a charity organization, “War Child UK” to benefit children whose lives have been directly affected by war. In addition, her fifth album earned Carlile her first Grammy nomination, “The Firewatcher’s Daughter” for Best Americana Album in 2016, and peaked at No. 9 on the Billboard 200. “By the Way, I Forgive You” was her sixth album which was released in February 2018 to critical and commercial acclaim, debuted at No. 5 on the Billboard 200, her highest charted position to date, and also reached No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums.
Her seventh album, In These Silent Days, was met with further critical and commercial success, debuting at No. 11 on the Billboard 200, and No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Rock Albums and Folk Albums charts. Her music has been categorized into several genres including folk, alternative country, rock, and pop. She said of her style, “I’ve gone through all sorts of vocal phases, from pop to blues to R&B, but no matter what I do, I just can’t get the country and western out of my voice.”
Carlile Before Fame
Before she was a folk-rock superstar, she was a high school dropout. She would spend her time in a lakeside shed with her first real band, her brother Jay, and a pair of thirty-something locals from Carlile’s native Washington State. Her teenage years days were full of uncertainty and exploration. She would begin gigging relentlessly around Seattle and meet her future musical collaborators, the Hanseroth Twins.
At the age of 17, she fell in love with her first girlfriend, Jessica, and tended to her horse named Sovereign, which she purchased for $75. By the end of 1997, she was gay. She began having relationships with girls in secret at school and creepy relationships with much older women in her band. Carlie narrates her childhood, “I was SO gay by the end of 1997. I started to have relationships with girls in secret at school and creepy relationships with much older women in my band/work life. I had found a group of friends who accepted me, and my brother, Jay, and I was inseparable.
He wasn’t crazy about my sexuality, but we each individually thought that the other was a total dickhead anyway, so it didn’t really matter. We are both quite judgmental by nature. Then Dad fell off the wagon and we got evicted from the trailer on the hill. I still dream about that place all the time. I think it’s the most time we spent in a house and although it was only a mystical moment in a complex and meaningful childhood, it has sustained itself in my memory through all my transitions. In my dream, we’re all adults but we’re squatting there. It’d been abandoned for years, but we’re always fixing it up and salvaging useful bits of garbage, like the Boxcar Children.
We are hanging Christmas lights and cooking on fire while hiding out from “Jack Heckenlively,” the evil landlord who will toss us out on our asses if he catches us there. I’m in the top bunk of my old bed, with Tiffany below me and Jay on the other side of the wall. No money, no wife or kids. Feeling nervous but somehow so comfortable, like all is right with the world. Back where my animals are buried and I’m totally free . . . I’m equal to my family members.
Nothing is separating us. WE LEFT THE trailer on my sixteenth birthday, and it was profound. Jay and I moved into the detached garage of a trailer in a Maple Valley trailer park. The two of us were sharing a room for the first time, and I loved it. I would lie in bed and laugh all night because Jay is fucking FUNNY— Chris Farley funny . . . and humble and accident-prone. We’d stay out late and come home to our garage and wash our spiky hair in a washing machine with powdered detergent. The guy who owned the trailer was sharing it with the rest of our family and he slept in a recliner in the living room.
We never wanted to walk past him. If we had to pee, we’d do it in a cup and pour it outside. Everything was hilarious to us. That’s how we were coping with it, like brothers. We’d buy rolls of quarters and hang out with our mom, our dad, and Dad’s best friend, Ron, to play poker for real money. Our family has always had a tense relationship with gambling, but in those days, and in contrast to everything else, it felt like the most wholesome thing in the world. If I was lucky the next day I’d be hauling several hundred dollars worth of quarters to the Coinstar machine at the grocery store.
It was on one of these nights that we’d meet Darren and Troy, a couple of brothers in their thirties who were learning to play instruments. They were practicing in a shed off a trailer down the street on Lake Sawyer. Jay and I fell head-over-heels in love with them and joined their band. We called it “The Shed” We didn’t really want to drink, but we could have if we wanted to, we were high on possibility, and the adult surroundings we were being accepted into were truly extraordinary for kids our age. It felt really weird to go back to school after that.
Brandi Carlile Age
Carlile is 42 years old as of 2023. She was born (Brandi Marie Carlile) on June 1, 1981, in Ravensdale, Washington, United States. Carlile celebrates her birthday on the 1st of June every year.
Brandi Carlile Height
Carlile stands at an approximate height of 5 feet 6 inches.
Brandi Carlile Family
Carlile was born and raised in Ravensdale, Washington, United States. She was brought up along with her sister Tiffany, and brother, Jay. Growing up in the only house for miles, she played in the woods, built forts, and played music with her siblings. When she was four, she contracted bacterial meningitis, and almost took her life. Her heart flatlined several times and she was in a coma. During her teens, she was diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder. Carlile spent her early life living in King County’s southern cities of Black Diamond, Maple Valley, and Auburn, in Sumner, Washington, and briefly lived in West Seattle.
Brandi Carlile Husband/Partner/lesbian
She identified herself as a lesbian in November 2002. Carlile says, “I don’t have to have a lot of formality around it … there were people before me who paved the way.” This was the time the Los Angeles Times interviewed her. She later announced her engagement to Catherine Shepherd in June 2012. The two met back in 2009. On September 15, 2012, they married in Wareham, Massachusetts. She is a Christian and lives in Maple Valley, Washington.
Together they have two daughters. Shepherd has been the executive director of the Looking Out Foundation, Carlile’s nonprofit since 2012. In addition to that, for over a decade she has worked as Paul McCartney’s charity coordinator. Tim and Phil Hanseroth are two of Carlile’s longtime collaborators, with whom she has performed since she was 17 years old. Phil has married Carlile’s younger sister Tiffany, now he is Carlile’s brother-in-law.
The three of them have matching tattoos of the Auryn amulet, the double ouroboros that is the central magical item in the book and movie The Neverending Story. Carlile keeps various animals, including goats, chickens, a horse, a dog, and a cat. She is the inspiration for chef Tom Douglas’s 13th Seattle restaurant, The Carlile Room.
Brandi Carlile Net Worth
Carlile has an estimated net worth ranging between $1 Million – $5 Million which she has earned from her successful career as a singer, songwriter, and producer.
Brandi Carlile Salary
Carlile earns an annual salary ranging between $40,000 – $ 110,500.
Carlile has been a part of several activism campaigns and an advocate for causes ranging from spreading awareness for health issues to LGBT rights and empowerment of women.
Touring and performances
In July 2018, Carlile announced the creation of her own music festival, “Girls Just Wanna Weekend”. The festival took place at Puerto Aventuras on the Riviera Maya in Mexico from January 30 – February 3, 2019, and was fronted by all-female musicians like Patty Griffin, Margo Price, Maren Morris, Indigo Girls, and others. She was inspired to create her own festival after participating in the Cayamo Cruise festival for numerous years.
Carlile published her autobiography, Broken Horses: A Memoir in April of 2021. In her excellent new memoir Broken Horses (Random House), she talks about some of the tragedies (a friend’s suicide), trauma (trying to get baptized), and thrills (falling for her first girlfriend) from that period.
Awards and Honors
She has received six Grammy Awards and earned 25 Grammy nominations. Carlile is the first female songwriter to receive two Grammy nominations for Song of the Year in the same year, and the first time that any songwriter or songwriting team was nominated for Song of the Year twice in the same year since 1994. She also won Seattle’s City of Music Breakthrough Award in 2010.
Carlile has released several studio albums. These include;
- Brandi Carlile (2005)
- The Story (2007)
- Give Up the Ghost (2009)
- Bear Creek (2012)
- The Firewatcher’s Daughter (2015)
- By the Way, I Forgive You (2018)
- In These Silent Days (2021)
- In the Canyon Haze (2022)