The folk rock and alternative country songstress can barely remember a time when she wasn’t performing music (she once sang back up for an Elvis impersonator). As she puts it, she didn’t decide to be a musician but she would’ve had to decide not to be one.
Diagnosed with attention deficient disorder, Carlile was too restless to sit behind a desk and follow a bunch of rules. She dropped out of high school at the age of 16 and began busking around Seattle. She performed at Pike Place Market, Medin’s Ravioli Station, and any coffee house that would book her. Carlile promised venue owners that she would pack their place. She was able to deliver a robust crowd because prior to each gig Carlile would call fans that had previously given her their contact information and tell them where she was about to perform.
In 2003, Carlile convinced the Hanseroth Brothers to join her band. She promised them they’d be signed to a recording contract in one year. Once again, Carlile delivered. Her and the brothers inked a deal in 2004, and her self-titled debut album dropped in 2005. By the end of 2012, she had released four more albums including the critically acclaimed Bear Creek—the name of her recording studio in Woodinville, Washington. Carlile has a penchant for working with great producers. Through the years she’s collaborated with Rick Rubin (Give Up the Ghost), T Bone Burnett (The Story), and Trina Shoemaker (Bear Creek).
Carlile is the consummate road warrior. She and her band are always on the road selling Brandi Carlile tickets. Her dynamic pipes definitely sound better in person than through your stereo. What makes attending one of her concerts such a rewarding experience is her philosophy. Carlile believes that live shows should never sound like a record and a record should sound like a live show. In her career, she has performed with a slew of great artists including Elton John, Dave Matthews, Ray Lamontage, and the Seattle Symphony.
You might think that someone with her voice, talent, and work ethic would be a huge star. However, Carlile eschews the spotlight; she goes out of her way to avoid mainstream popularity. While she has built a large and ardent following, Carlile has also managed to stay under the industry’s radar. In other words, Brandi Carlile is all about the music.