Aug. 08--You may not know Brandi Carlile by name, but you've probably already enjoyed her music.
Whether her songs are playing on the radio or in the background while you watch TV, the singer's powerful voice isn't easily ignored. Her music is a little bit rock, a little bit folk and -- these days in particular -- a little bit country.
The 32-year-old's music has been featured prominently on hit shows including "Grey's Anatomy," and she had big-name producers like Rick Rubin and T-Bone Burnett clamoring to work with her. Even music legend Elton John sought her out for a collaboration.
On Aug. 14 she will bring her big voice to fill the Turlock Community Theatre.
A native of the Pacific Northwest, Carlile has gone back to her roots with her latest studio album, "Bear Creek." The album debuted at No. 10 on the Billboard 200 chart last summer.
The album was recorded in a rustic, converted turn-of-the-century barn in the woods of her home state of Washington. The result is a natural, earthy album filled with a lot of twang and -- as always -- Carlile's room-filling voice.
"We have always felt like resident aliens when we've made a record," Carlile told The Seattle Times last fall of making records in places like New York and Vancouver, British Columbia, previously. "(Bear Creek) felt like somewhere we belonged. It's just so much like home."
Carlile released her first studio album in 2005. She followed that up in 2007 with "The Story," produced with Burnett, who has toured with Bob Dylan and produced the likes of Roy Orbison, Elvis Costello and Tony Bennett.
Her sophomore effort featured the title song "The Story," which has been featured on TV shows and in a GM commercial that was played heavily during coverage of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
Two years later she followed that record up with "Giving Up the Ghost," produced by Grammy-winning producer Rubin. He has worked with everyone from Johnny Cash to Jay-Z and Neil Diamond. Carlile collaborated with pop icon John on the song "Caroline" for that album.
Carlile also recently performed a duet with country legend Willie Nelson for his upcoming album "To All the Girls." Set to be released in September, the album features Nelson singing with 18 of his favorite female artists. Carlile is featured along with Dolly Parton, Sheryl Crow, Loretta Lynn and Carrie Underwood. Carlile sings with Nelson on the song "Making Believe."
The singer has toured steadily since her early days busking in Seattle and amassed a loyal fan base along the way.
In 2009, she shared more than her music with them when she came out as a lesbian in an interview with the Los Angeles Times. Carlile had been out to her family since she was a teenager, but had never discussed her sexuality in the press. In September, Carlile married her girlfriend, Catherine Shepherd, in Massachusetts -- one of 13 states where same-sex marriage is legal.
Shepherd has been on the bus touring with Carlile while she promotes "Bear Creek."
"It's so surprising and so hard fought," Carlile recently told the Chicago Sun-Times of her marriage. "I wouldn't have been able to picture myself married or successful or pursuing my dreams if there hadn't been other people that had done it before me, like role models, and that's why talking about it is so important. If a 14- or 15-year-old girl reads this in a small town who's gay, then she knows that someday she might get to go get a marriage license and get married, and there's no reason she should stop dreaming about a white wedding, because I didn't."
Carlile's social consciousness can also be seen in her Looking Out Foundation, which she founded in 2008. The organization receives $1 of every one of her concert tickets sold and uses it to fund a variety of humanitarian causes. Over the years the group has given hundreds of thousands of dollars to groups supporting women's health issues, children's charities, homeless shelters, anti-hunger campaigns and more.
Raising her voice for causes she supports and in song just seems to come naturally to Carlile, who started singing at a young age.
"People that could sing loud always fascinated me. So I started trying to mimic (those techniques) at a really young age: 6, 7 years old," she told NPR recently. Hitting the high notes "feels really liberating. I mean, that was something I used to want to do all the time when I was a kid, but you just -- there's people around, you know? We didn't really have any neighbors, but just siblings. Somebody to make fun of you if you screw it up."
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