Brandi Carlile is an American singer and songwriter. She’s known for her alternative country and folk rock sound. Many have tried to put her music into a category, but over the years she’s been labeled as pop, alternative country, rock, and folk. Carlile herself has stated that her music has gone through many phases but she’s always kept the country in her voice. To date, she’s released six albums and experiences several successes, including one Grammy Award nomination.
Carlile was born in Washington state, and learned to sing at a young age from her mother, who was a singer herself. She performed for the first time when she was eight years old—performing Johnny Cash’s “Tennessee Flat Top Box” with her mother. She began playing the guitar and writing songs when she was fifteen. At sixteen, she began to perform again as a backup singer to an Elvis impersonator. Finally, before leaving her teens behind, Carlile also learned how to play the piano after being inspired by an Elton John performance.
After spending some time performing in Seattle music clubs, Carlile signed on with Columbia Records in 2004. In 2005, she released some of her earlier songs originally recorded in her home in a self-titled album. The success of the album landed her in Rolling Stone’s “10 Artists to Watch in 2005.” Other reviews of her music that year called her voice “warm, rich, and seductive.” At the end of 2006, Carlile began touring with several well-known artists such as The Fray, Ray LaMontagne, Tori Amos and Chris Isaak.
In 2007 her second album titled The Story was released. During the 2008 Summer Olympics, her song “The Story” was featured heavily in Toyota commercials, opening up her music to a wide audience, and bringing her a new group of fans. This was evident when “The Story” peaked at number 5 in the iTunes Music Store’s most purchased list. The Story brought Carlile more praise from critics, and even more success than she could have imagined.
Several of Carlile’s songs have been featured on Grey’s Anatomy, bringing her together with fans who will soon grow to love her work. And continuing the wave of success, Carlile performed in London in 2007, opening for bands such as Maroon 5 and OneRepublic.
In 2009, Carlile released Give Up the Ghost, which featured several collaborations with famous artists such as Elton John. Praise for this album exceeded her previous album, many critics taking time to acknowledge the growth in her music and the clear superiority of her new songs to previous releases.
The successes of her albums, including her 2012 release of the album titled Bear Creek (which was featured in the movie Safe Haven), is not all Carlile is known for. She’s performed at several venues that leave fans stunned, and has done a wide variety of impressive things such as acting as a judge for the 10th Independent Music Awards, taking part in the campaign “30 songs / 30 days,” and singing the National Anthem during the NFL playoff game in 2014. Carlile has also devoted a great deal of her time to non-profit work and other humanitarian projects. The success of her music is a show of her natural talent, and good heart—something fans can feel each time they listen to her sing.