As Variety catches up with Brandi Carlile, she is able to talk at some leisure because she’s traveling by train, headed from Washington, D.C., where the night before she sang in honor of U2 and Amy Grant at the Kennedy Center Honors, to New York City, where she’s just about to perform with Marcus Mumford and Jon Batiste for a War Child benefit. From that show, she will be heading right into rehearsals for her second “Saturday Night Live” appearance of the year. This whirlwind east coast actually started a few days earlier up in NYC, where she served as the headliner for the American Museum of Natural History’s annual gala, giving everyone a FOMO moment when Steve Martin turned up on stage to play banjo with her.
In other words, it’s pretty much a typical week in the life of Brandi Carlile circa 2022. Blink and you’ll miss something that for most other artists could be a heady career highlight, but that for her is … well, probably also a heady career highlight, but one of many sequentially getting ticked off as she becomes arguably the most constantly in-demand and oft-obliging singer the world has at the moment.
The conversation is intended to focus on the love she’s getting from the Grammys, with Carlile going into the 2023 edition with seven nominations, the most she’s had in a single year after getting at least two each year for the last four ceremonies straight. But in also talking about her Year That Was, there is so much more to discuss than could even get a moment’s mention in an hour’s chat. To tick off some, if hardly all, of them:
Sitting in with Elton John to sing “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” at Dodger Stadium for his globally webcast final American tour stop ever. Engineering a “Joni Jam” with her beloved Joni Mitchell at the Newport Folk Festival, soon to be a live album. Being the co-driving force (along with Batiste) for Mitchell’s MusiCares all-star salute. Paying tribute Dolly Parton with Pink and others at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame ceremony. Doing knockout performances at nationally televised memorial services for Naomi Judd and Loretta Lynn. Going out on select dates of the “Judds Farewell Tour” to take Naomi’s place next to Wynonna (with her brother, Jay, in the backing band). Doing an Imax live concert that went out to hundreds of theaters in real time. Being the exec-producer and partial subject of a theatrical documentary, “The Return of Tanya Tucker — Featuring Brandi Carlile.” Doing another edition of her annual Girls Just Wanna festival in Mexico. Being feted by the Human Rights Campaign. Releasing a deluxe version of her Grammy-nominated “In These Silent Days” record, featuring a whole separate version of the album with different, newly recorded arrangements. A collaborative single with friend Allison Russell. A guest slot on Mumford’s solo debut. Producing a 2022 album for Lucius (her “SNL” vocal accompanists) and 2023 ones for Tucker and Brandy Clark. “SNL” x2.
Oh, and one-offs aside: a full tour behind “Days” (and “Daze”). Becoming one of the Grammys’ four top nominees of the year for her recorded output. And motherhood.
If you imagine she’s depleted from all this as the year draws to a close, imagine again. “I love working. I really do,” she says. Not surprisingly for her, it’s about connections as well as accomplishments. “The other thing about working this much is it really makes you feel like you’ve got family everywhere you go,” she says. “Everything has felt a little bit like a family reunion lately.”
Read the full interview HERE.