Pop/rock singer/songwriter Brandi Carlile was a recent guest for an installment of the GRAMMY Museum's The Drop series. Before an intimate audience at the Museum's Clive Davis Theater, Carlile discussed her charity organization, the Looking Out Foundation, and recording her most recent release, Bear Creek. Carlile also performed a brief set, including "Raise Hell" and "That Wasn't Me," with members of her band, Tim and Phil Hanseroth.
"We didn't really record [Bear Creek] any more or less live than we recorded The Story or Give Up The Ghost, we just left it alone in post-[production]," said Carlile. "We didn't automate, we just left it alone. That's really where those imperfections show. … [But] that's what real life is, imperfection. People can't relate to perfection."
Born in Ravensdale, Wash., Carlile grew up listening to the musical influences of her mother, country singer Teresa Carlile, including classic country artists such as Patsy Cline. Carlile performed her first country set at age 8 but by 17 had developed a taste for rock and roll, influenced by her biggest musical inspiration, Elton John. (Carlile also cites GRAMMY-winning arranger Paul Buckmaster, whose photos she had hanging on her wall as a child, as a big influence.) Carlile subsequently connected with multi-instrumentalists and twin brothers, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, formerly of the Fighting Machinists, and the trio began performing together, opening concerts for artists such as Shawn Colvin, India.Arie and Dave Matthews. After distributing several self-released albums in 2000, Carlile signed with Columbia Records in 2005 and subsequently released her self-titled debut album.
For her follow-up album, 2007's The Story, Carlile teamed with 12-time GRAMMY-winning producer T Bone Burnett. The album peaked at No. 41 on the Billboard 200 on the strength of the hit title track. For her third album, 2009's Give Up The Ghost, Carlile teamed with GRAMMY-winning producer Rick Rubin. The album, which peaked at No. 26, featured a guest spot from John, who contributed piano and vocals to "Caroline." Released in June, Bear Creek was produced by GRAMMY winner Trina Shoemaker and centers around the theme of fading youth as Carlile wrote some of the songs as she celebrated her 30th birthday. The album peaked at No. 10 on the Billboard 200, Carlile's highest-charting album to date.
Aside from music, in 2008 Carlile founded the Looking Out Foundation. Through $1 donations from every concert ticket sold, the foundation channels resources to organizations that support the arts, women, public health, and the homeless. Additionally, Carlile is a co-founder of the Fight the Fear Campaign, a community-oriented violence prevention program. "It really isn't about fighting other people," said Carlile on her website. "It's about respecting the fact that you yourself are worth fighting for."
Carlile is currently on tour throughout the United States, with dates scheduled through November, as well as a spot on the Cayamo music cruise in January 2013.
Upcoming GRAMMY Museum events include Spotlight: With Daniel Bedingfield (Aug. 6), An Evening With Iris Dement (Aug. 9), Reel To Reel: My Koaloha Story, and An Evening With The Mavericks (Sept. 5).