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Great Female Vocalists-Brandi Carlile

Updated on April 21, 2013

Brandi Carlile-The Story of A Great American Singer

Brandi Carlile was born in Washington State in 1981. Her parents were already active on the Christian music scene when she was born so it was inevitable that Brandi would one day want to follow in her talented mother's footsteps and become a vocalist.

Brandi Carlile is actually 'a band' - Brandi and the identical Haseroth twins; the songwriting is shared out between all three band members and they are all committed to the band. Brandi has joked, "If there was a band called Phil Hanseroth, I would be in it!"

Brandi Carlile picked up her first guitar as a toddler and finally learnt to play properly in her early teens.

She started writing songs at the age of 15. One of the earliest songs she wrote was 'Turpentine', which is featured on her 2007 album, The Story.

Brandi Carlile seems to have built up a small (though growing larger) cult following over the past six years and will soon get a lot more fans thanks to the addition of her song 'Hiding My Heart Away' on the limited edition of Adele's 21 album.

Adele does a 'true' version of the song, no fancy re-rendition of one of Brandi's best songs (strangely hidden away as an 'additional' track on her second album, 'The Story').

Adele should be praised for keeping it real - she clearly admires Brandi, just listen to the chord arrangement on 'That Year', then listen closely and imagine a slowed down version of 'Someone Like You'. Brandi and Adele have a similar vocal range even if, in general, their style is quite different.

Brandi shines in all her songs, the big numbers like 'The Story' and her quieter ballads like 'Downpour'.

Brandi Carlile
Brandi Carlile | Source
Brandi Carlile live
Brandi Carlile live | Source
Brandi Carlile - Live outdoors
Brandi Carlile - Live outdoors | Source

Brandi Carlile - Music As A Force For Good

Brandi Carlile goes about her music quietly, she is not really publicity hungry but has openly told the press that she is gay and also that she has ADHD. She told reporters that other artistes had already paved the way by being open about their sexuality so she had nothing to add to the conversation.

Her ADHD was diagnosed when she was a teenager and she felt that it held her back academically because her hyperactivity stopped her being able to concentrate. Eventually, she dropped out of school to pursue a music career. Of course, Brandi isn't the only celebrity to have ADHD and be able to succeed in spite of it - Jim Carrey (actor), Jamie Oliver (chef), Justin Timberlake (songer/actor) all have ADHD. Brandi, like them, has learnt to focus her energies on something which keeps her cognitive health in check - she found music and it has been a force for good in her life (and ours!).

Brandi Carlile - Debut Album

Brandi released her debut album after a year of constant touring. Not for Brandi and the Hanseroth twins the big venues - their tour was of small folk venues where the audience get pretty close to the state.

Here is a live rendition of 'Closer To You'.

Brandi Carlile is getting some airplay on the radio but DJs seem genuinly confused about which genre they should pigeonhole her under. Brandi can't be pigeonholed though this debut album is more folk than anything else. This diversity in her talents will be shown to fuller effect in her second album, The Story.

Brandi Carlile - The Story

The Story was Brandi's second album, released in 2007. Its biggest hit, the title track, 'The Story' was written by Phil Hanseroth, the bassist of the band. It is, quite simply, a brilliant song.

The lyrics are so strong - they tell a real story and we're taken along by Brandi's amazing vocals. The song has achieved popular in some unusual places; in Portugal The Story was used to advertise Portugal's most popular beer, Super Bock leading to Brandi reaching Number 4 in a country which doesn't have English as its first language. It was used to promote a show called McLeod's Daughters in Australia, achieving similar success.

Brandi has cited her biggest influence as the Pacific Northwest - she is rooted to her home state of Washington, but admits that living in the countryside rather than the city has influenced her style of music which she says is rooted in folk (but has no fixed genre).

Brandi sang a live version on BBC TV's With Jools Holland which reached so many viewers in the UK that a real buzz started about her. That's where I first saw her and that song blew me away.

The album doesn't have any fillers - every track is great. I have chosen 2 to highlight her talents - 'The Story' and 'Downpour' (the latter is a really good amateur video). It was produced by T-Bone Burnett, who has lots of famous albums credited to him, inlcuding the more recent 'Raising Sand' by Robert Plant and Alison Krauss.

Brandi Carlile - Give Up The Ghost

Brandi's third album feels more rounded and orchestral than her first two albums but she has still retained her strong folk roots and gives us some wonderfully pared down songs, just her and guitar and a light backing track.

Grey's Anatomy which had Sara Ramirez sing 'The Story' in their musical episode also had a few tracks from this album featured in Series 5. I have chosen two very different tracks, just to illustrate her diverse sound.

'Dreams' was written by all 3 members of the band and is about dreaming about loved ones that they missed whilst out on tour. I think it is quite 60s inspired (Brandi loves the Beatles).

The second choice I have made is That Year, which has the most poignant lyrics I have ever heard and seems to be about a friend of Brandi's who committed suicide many years ago. It has one of the most memorable lines in a song, "I was angry, I was a Baptist, I was a daughter, I was wrong.", almost made me cry when I heard it the first time.

Brandi's latest album is a collaboration with the Seattle Symphony Orchestra - still sticking with her birthplace and sharing a cultural experience with a classical orchestra.

I finish this homage to Brandi with another artist's cover of one of her songs - Adele singing 'Hiding My Heart Away' , Brandi must be so proud!

The idyllic Bear Creek recording studio - created in a barn; close enough to the coty to party but set in the countryside for the peace and quiet and ability to concentrate.
The idyllic Bear Creek recording studio - created in a barn; close enough to the coty to party but set in the countryside for the peace and quiet and ability to concentrate. | Source

Brandi Carlile - Bear Creek

Brandi and the bands latest album, Bear Creek was prodiced by Grammy winning producer, Trina Showmaker, famous for producing many of Sheryl Crow's albums.

No real radical change of direction on this album except that it definitely has more of an acoustic flavour than the previous albums and as always Brandi Carlile provides amazing, hearfelt vocals and the lyrics and melodies are as amazing as ever.

The album is named after the studio in which the album is made - bear Creek Recording Studio in Washington State, Brandi's home state.

The Story
The Story

Brandi Carlile - The Story, an amazing album with a guest appearance by The Indigo Girls.



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    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Audra, thanks for your comment - I love 'Closer To You' - you got a good 'freebie' with that one.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I got a free itunes download of ' 'Closer To You' when she first came out...good song! Thanks for writing a good hub about her! Now, I have some new stuff to listen too!

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Michelle, many thanks for your comment. I'm glad you liked Brandi.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      5 years ago from North-East UK

      Denise, I discovered Brandi by accident looking for someone else on YouTube and when I heard 'The Story, that was it for me. I thinkk she has an amazing voice. Thanks so much for your comment.

    • midget38 profile image

      Michelle Liew 

      5 years ago from Singapore

      A great listen in the noon, Jools. She is talented! Thanks for sharing, and I share too.

    • Denise Handlon profile image

      Denise Handlon 

      5 years ago from North Carolina

      Beautiful voice, Julie. Thanks so much for introducing me to this artist. Rated up/A/I

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 

      6 years ago from Orlando, FL

      I never heard of Brandi. I'm listening to "Closer To You" and she has a lovely voice!! Thank you for introducing her Julie!!

      I could relate to the hyperactivity...I exhaust myself.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      Many thanks - she's awesome!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      its awesome

    • phdast7 profile image

      Theresa Ast 

      6 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

      On your previous Hub, I should have mentioned Brandi Carlilse. Been listening to and enjoying her work for about five years now. Great stuff. Excellent Hub.

    • Jools99 profile imageAUTHOR

      Jools Hogg 

      6 years ago from North-East UK

      GoodLady, Thanks so much for your comment. I think Brandi is still a well-kept secret but not for much longer.

    • GoodLady profile image

      Penelope Hart 

      6 years ago from Rome, Italy

      She's beautiful....thanks...loved her Jools performance...and her 'Dreams'. Nice listening this afternoon.


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