main photo by: Michael Cassella
6 BRAMILY Members Share How Brandi Carlile
Has Changed Their Lives
“What was it specifically about what Brandi Carlile was doing (on the 2019 Grammys) that you were drawn to?” Malcom Gladwell asks Jack White on Gladwell and Rick Rubin’s Broken Record Podcast after White praises Carlile’s performance.
“I believed her,” answers Jack White.
Simple, authentic, and straight from the artists’ heart to yours. It sounds obvious, and even a like pre-requisite in terms of qualities that resonate deeply with fans near and far. Yet something so basic can still be quite hard to find.
In today’s world of glorification and over-production, its only the truth that people seek. At Artist Waves, our mission since day one has been always to illuminate the artists that represent that by continuously sharing their stories and then by asking the question, what’s happening here?
With Carlile’s artistry, approach and greater Bramily (Brandi Carlile fanclub) community, it’s been an easy question to answer. It’s working. This honesty and willingness to bet on herself and her bandmates has not only been something inspiring to everyone that walks into the room, it’s also changing people’s lives for the better.
The 2019 Grammy awards was an opportunity for the mainstream to see firsthand what the Bramily already knew. Long before Carlile was named our 2018 Most Inspiring Artist of the Year as well. Carlile’s new book Broken Horses (a NYT best-seller), released April of 2021, offered a new insight into how all of this came to be. There’s a near-death experience, there’s a letter to Eddie Vedder, there’s self-discovery, there are nine different schools, then there are no schools, there’s Elton, there’s Joni, there’s family, there’s endless amounts of grit and fortitude and there’s pride and joy.
The Bramily, a Brandi Carlile fan alliance, is described as “the incredibly inspiring, generous, thoughtful, civic-minded and community engaged group of folks who are awesome in their own right AND who become even more badass because of their love for Brandi Carlile, Phil and Tim Hanseroth’s music.”
Engaging amongst the Bramily, I’ve been fortunate enough to witness – proposals at Carlile shows, people from across the world become friends, sincere efforts towards Carlile’s Looking Out Foundation, select wine drinking, and an abundance of pride, support and strength in the power of self awareness. The last time I saw a Carlile show (Boston Calling 2019), I overheard a young girl who I’d guess was seven or eight years-old, ask her mother as they were filing out the exit gates if she can have a guitar because she loved how “the singer sanged her feelings.”
From pre-schoolers to Monica to Tanya Tucker, Carlile is a champion for the voice of women throughout all genres, while pioneering the rise of equality within country music.
At the end of Broken Horses, Carlile encourages readers to “write their life” after she explains how she had to overcome literacy issues and moderate dyslexia to accomplish her goal of writing her own book. “With these words I have healed deep wounds and feelings of inadequacy within myself,” the second paragraph in the Acknowledgements reads. “Write your life. No matter how young or old. Even if you feel like you’re not interesting enough. Do it. Believe me you are.”
With that, it has been my absolute pleasure to connect with six different Bramily members from across the country who were brave enough to write a piece of their life here. And this is their song.
Photo by Lisa Yerke. “Singing together at her “Brandioke” event at her music festival, Girls Just Wanna Weekend at Hard Rock Riviera Maya.” GJWW 3 was announced yesterday! girlsjustwannaweekend.com
In December of 2019, my marriage (to a man) ended, and I found myself wondering who I was and what I wanted. With a six year-old and what I thought was a new lease on life, I set goals for the year, full of hope in this new chapter. I was discovering my hidden true sexuality and making friends in the LGBQTIA community after living as a straight woman my whole life. I met a woman (now my girlfriend) who was a die hard Brandi fan, and recommended her songs because they had previously helped her through tough times and relationships. I gave a listen and thought, hey, these are great lyrics.
Then the pandemic hit. I was suddenly taking my six year-old to work with me every day, on top of trying to sell our home for the last seven years, finding a new place to live, dealing with a divorce that started as amicable, and not knowing what the future held.
I started listening to every single one of Brandi’s albums just to get through the day. Sometimes it was just background, sometimes it was me singing at the top of my lungs while driving, sometimes it was holding back tears to “By the Way, I Forgive You”. From songs on newfound motherhood, to heartbreak and new chapters, substance abuse, falling head over heels in love, and giving those loves another chance…these songs still get me through the day. Brandi and the twins can rock out just as hard as anyone to “Raise Hell”, or showcase their vocals in “The Eye”, they have amazing range. Their songs make you feel seen, connected to them, like someone else knows exactly where you are because they have been there.
And once you connect with their fan base? You’ll never feel out of place again. BCB and the Bramily are love, family, a place to belong. They’ve saved my life, and I am forever a fan of all they produce. I have BCB t-shirts, countless stickers of them that Buffalofish Underground puts out to support BCB’s non-profit The Looking Out Foundation, four copies of Broken Horses (two signed for me and my gf and two that came with livestream interviews of Brandi I purchased), almost all of their vinyl albums, a couple of posters, and I’m dipping my toes into their wine label, XOBC. My girlfriend and I watched just about every single one of their livestreams they put on during the last year, which felt like a one on one performance with friends. Basically….they are the GOATs. Once you experience them, you’d be crazy not to be a lifelong fan.
In 2007 is when I discovered Brandi and of course Phil and Tim Hanseroth; it couldn’t have come at a better time. I knew there was a strong connection to her and their music. It wasn’t until Broken Horses came out, I realized that I’m more like Brandi than I had originally thought- not only because of my musical aspirations, but down to our grandmothers calling us “special” or “there’s something special about her.” At 31 I’m still trying to figure out what that is; I’m glad Brandi did.
I lost touch with her and the band when I was in one of my darkest days but reconnected during my divorce from my wife and custody battle, and very heavily during the beginning of the pandemic. I actually was supposed to see her in concert for the first time but COVID happened so I was very disappointed. I’m not great with my emotions but Brandi’s music and her simple way of being makes me feel at real peace. Her last album (By The Way I Forgive You) is really shaping my thought process. I’m still so angry and resentful at my now ex-wife but I’m trying really hard to practice “radical forgiveness” and Brandi taught me that. Like her, it’s a work in progress and I don’t know if I’ll ever get there BUT because of her, I’m willing to give it a shot.
Thank you Brandi Carlile and The Twins.
“Follow your heart and see where it might take you
Don’t let the world outside there break you
They know not who you are inside
They never felt your yell.”
I’m a misfit. Born disabled, and slowly losing my hearing. Watching Brandi for 15+ years has been the only place I feel like I “fit in”. Doesn’t matter how much hearing I lose, my heart will always hear her. And Broken Horses is amazing! I love reading all these stories of her life.
The first time I heard Brandi Carlile sing the song “Most of All” from the album By the Way, I Forgive You was in a sold out theater in Louisville, Kentucky. The song begins, “I haven’t seen my father in some time, but his face is always staring back at me, his heavy hands swing at the ends of my arms…” and I just stood in that dark theater with tears streaming down my face. My dad and I had always had such a strained relationship. At times I hated what I saw in the mirror because so much of it was him. But that night something shifted in me and I felt forgiveness and, with some time, even pride. Just over a year after that night, my dad passed away very suddenly. I’m so deeply grateful that I had some time to heal before he was gone. Brandi and Tim and Phil facilitated that healing. Brandi’s impact on the world cannot be overstated. She is a catalyst for healing.
“I need that one song to mean something. It needs to come from the muse.” (broken horses)
When I was five-years old, I was in the hospital for two weeks. After numerous trips to my pediatrician with no answers, boiling red eyes finally gave it away. I had a rare illness that would require intensive care at New York City’s Columbia Presbertiarian hospital. I don’t remember much other than – the cheer of seeing a certain aunt visit me each day with balloons, countless blood and heart exams, and the look of worry on my family’s faces.
30 plus years later, thankfully I am fine. Aside from the fact that I still ask doctors to see the needle when I get blood work, just as I did in 1988. I understand now, what I never thought about then, or along the way during my adult/professional life. Early on in Broken Horses, Brandi Carlile discusses how being down with Meningitis at a young age changed her life in terms of intense, deep and often profound thinking. Should a young kid observe such stress at the fresh age of five? Probably not! Especially when they are so innocently the cause. “For me it can too early and in the wrong kind of package.” But it has certainly served as a deep well of inspiration, and a rich, creative ink to dip the pen in. I learned so much about myself just by hearing about someone who shared a similar experience.
“Because when you’re home you’re already home.”
Back in April of 2007, I found myself falling headfirst into the Brandi Carlile fandom after her music video for “The Story” aired at the end of a Grey’s Anatomy episode. That opening guitar riff, those vocals, those eyes, that gap tooth, that FACE….I was immediately smitten, frozen in my tracks, completely incapable of looking away. And as silly as it sounds, my life truly never was the same after that. I joined a fan forum, where I virtually met a lot of other folks like me. I traveled to shows across the nation, and eventually across the Atlantic with friends I’d made along the way. They supported me when I needed them the most. They made me feel safe, lifted me up with their encouraging words, compassion and empathy.
It wasn’t a coincidence that I decided to come out as a lesbian that year—initially only to those on the message boards, then to my sister and the following year, to my family and everyone else. I wasn’t scared because of the strength, power and love I found in those forum-based friends. I knew I’d always have them, that they’d protect me, envelop me with their warmth, comfort me if I was rejected by the rest of society. I had known I was gay for some time. Most people likely knew it, considering my perpetual state of singledom and the fact that I’d not had a boyfriend since I was 14…and at this point, I was 21. But, I hadn’t confirmed it publicly nor had I even had a girlfriend (though I’d eventually meet my first THROUGH THAT MESSAGE BOARD!) Brandi, and the online family I’d built around her, inspired me to formally step out of the proverbial closet. They made me brave. They showed me it was ok to be gay, that those who mattered, those who deserved me, those who belonged in my life would love me regardless of my sexuality. And they were right.
I’d always arrive to the venue hours before the doors opened, hellbent on securing a front-row spot, but as the rest of the crowd would fill in….I’d find myself amidst a sea of lesbians, more than I’d ever seen in my entire life! It was my home, my church, my sanctuary. I could be unapologetically ME during those few hours – not having to worry about negative judgment, about looks of disapproval from ignorant conservatives, about hurtful words hurled my way. I was free from the outside world. I was where I belonged! And, if I’m being honest, all these years later and I’ve never managed to recapture that same feeling of inclusivity and love. I can say, without the slightest hesitation, that those shows were the best moments of my life (with one exception from 2009).
The Brandi fans I know are the absolute greatest humans on the planet. Hands down. I am eternally grateful for them and for those experiences. They changed me, shaped me, made me into the person I am today….a person I am proud to be.
So, yeah, Brandi Carlile is my favorite musician, but she’s more than that. No one has had a more positive influence on my life than that woman, her message, her spirit, and, perhaps most of all, her fans.
Thank you forever.
To join the BRAMILY visit: Bramily.com
To learn more about Brandi Carlile tour dates or to get your copy of Broken Horses visit: BrandiCarlile.com
To contribute to the Looking Out Foundation visit: lookingoutfoundation.org
Check out Jeff Gorra’s Brandi Carlile archive here:
photo via: Brandi Carlile Instagram
Fans featured in the photos: