Over the course of her 20-year career, singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile has received plenty of the highest honors a musician can get. She’s won six Grammys, joined a country supergroup, the Highwomen, worked with legends Tanya Tucker, T-Bone Burnett, and Joni Mitchell, started her own music festival, and became a New York Times bestseller with her 2021 memoir, Broken Horses. Still, one of her biggest dreams, a spot as a musical guest on Saturday Night Live, has eluded her—until this Saturday, that is, when she’ll take the stage to perform songs from her new album In These Silent Days, alongside host Jason Sudeikis.
“Every time an album comes out and I don’t get to do Saturday Night Live, I’m always so sad,” Carlile said in a recent phone interview. “But here I am, right? And I can’t imagine a better time to play it. I feel really, really ready. I feel like I have the right songs, the right amount of confidence, the right amount of chill, like I can do this without freaking out and screwing it up, like I would’ve in my twenties.”
For Carlile, the night is also an opportunity to celebrate something a bit more fundamental: the return of live music after the ravages of the pandemic. In advance of her big night, she spoke to Vanity Fair about her sense of humor, how she kept sane during her quarantine, and what she’s learned by taking on any gig she can.
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