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Ghost Canyon

Brandi Carlile Brandi Carlile

'Time After Time, The Road Leads Back To Carlile'

The buzz grew way before the self-titled debut album from 23-year-old writer/artist Brandi Carlile (Columbia Records) was released to the public early in July.

The album is a showcase for Carlile's expressive voice, which can turn from a tough, bluesy growl to a vulnerable, aching falsetto on a dime. On Brandi Carlile, the highly original young artist juxtaposes elements of timeless American roots music with dark, otherworldly melodies on songs like "Follow," "Tragedy," "Happy" and "Gone." Other standouts include "Throw It All Away" and "Fall Apart Again."

Carlile has built a steady following in the Northwest and West Coast through nonstop touring with such notable acts as Dave Matthews, James Taylor, India.Arie, Jonny Lang, Sondre Lerche and Rachel Yamagata. Her stunning live performances have turned heads in her native Northwest.

But the accolades Carlile has been receiving don't stop there. Brandi was featured in the October 2004 35th Anniversary edition of Interview magazine as one of four female recording artists to watch in 2005, and Rolling Stone named her one of their 10 Artists to Watch in 2005!

Chatting recently with the lady herself, I first wondered if having been singled out as an 'Artist to Watch' by Rolling Stone had brought with it one mighty heavy image to live up to? "I just want to play music and do my best. That's the only thing that's really up to me."

What are your memories of that possibly fateful day at the age of 8 when you sang at the Northwest's version of the Grand Ole Opry? "It was really an incredible feeling. It was the first time I got to sing in front of all those people and everyone was applauding. From that point on, I knew what I wanted to do."

Growing up in the middle of nowhere, as you've put it, must have had both its good and bad points ... what would one of each be? "The bad thing was that I had no friends to play with except for my brother and sister. The good thing was that I had no friends to play with except for my brother and sister and we got to build forts and write songs together and hang out."

During those years, you 'taught' yourself to sing, but just how does one teach themselves to sing from scratch? "Just from watching other people and listening to them - mimicking my idols: like my mom or Patsy Cline or Roy Orbison."

Your vocal tones range from gutsy, to bluesy, to falsetto, but which is the one that you truly feel more at home with as a reflection of the true you ... "I think all of those things are related for me and it just depends on what the song calls for. I like combining lots of things to create something unique."

... and which song of your self-titled debut encapsulates that persona? "The song 'Throw it All Away'."

Away from music, what do you do given a free weekend? "I usually sit around with the twins and have a barbecue or go fishing."

Tell me more about your first paycheck ... singing background vocals for an Elvis impersonator! "It was 25 bucks a show and they were 3 hours long. There were two sets: a 50's set & a 70's set and costume changes. It was pretty cool. I got my 25 bucks and I felt really lucky to get a chance to do it."

What cheesy '80s song would you love to cover if asked ... and why?! "It would be 'Time after Time' by Cyndi Lauper. The production is cheesy but the lyrics and music are timeless in a way. If you play it on acoustic, it's really great."

If there were just 3 words that best described Brandi Carlile, what would they be? "This is a hard one. Probably honest, hard-working & hopeful."

Finally, if you were asked to record a single for charity, and had to choose 3 other musicians to aid you in the project (using no one from your band!), who would they be, what instruments would they play, and what would the name of the song be?! "Elton John on piano, Brian May on guitar & Geezer Butler on bass helping me to do a song that Bernie Topin helped write named "Majestic Panther".

Interviewed by Russell A. Trunk

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