When Brandi Carlile revealed that she was gay, country music was more than a decade away from fully accepting that lifestyle, at least among artists. But thanks to trailblazers like Carlile, Ty Herndon, Chely Wright and more, LGBTQ artists are finally more welcome – and fans more accepting – and no one is more grateful than Carlile.
"It means so much to me," Carlile recently shared with PopCulture.com and other media. "I started out singing country music as a child, and all the way through my teenage years, I've never really been far away from it. I consider country music, country western music, Americana, American roots music to just be the great American story."
The recent three-time Grammy winner plans on continuing to make music, both as a solo artist and as part of the newly-formed The Highwomen band, which also includes Maren Morris, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby.
"I'm telling that story whether, I'm playing rock and roll, or country, or whether I'm working with Tanya [Tucker] or The Highwomen or the Secret Sisters," continued Carlile. "I feel really embraced by that community right now, and for that, I am unspeakably grateful, especially as an LGBTQ artist."
Carlile not only co-produced (with Shooter Jennings) Tucker's upcoming new album, While I'm Livin', but the two also recently shared the stage at Bonnaroo, and seems determined to keep advocating for the country music legend.
"It's so important to me, and it comes from the same place that The Highwomen come from, which is that Tanya Tucker, has, I think, debatably, one of the most important voices in country music, beside Johnny Cash, particularly because Tanya sounds tough," Carlile said. "She has an androgyny and authority in her voice that, not that many women that sing country music could have over the years. It was really impactful to me, in my youth, to know that I could sing country music, and I could sound tough, you know, and have gait.
"Tanya hasn't made an album in 18 years," she countered. "She's 61 years old, and in all genres we have a habit of not telling our great legends how much they mean to us, until they're too old to really get out on the road and enjoy that golden year status. Well, we have an opportunity with Tanya, you know, we might still have her for another 30 years. We should tell her that she's, what she's done for us, what she's done, what she's living, and that's why the album is called While I'm Living, and that's why I got involved in it. It does mean a lot to me."
Photo Credit: Getty images / Josh Brasted