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Brandi Carlile Says Female Representation in Music Has ‘Reversed’

Brandi Carlile. Photo: Gregg DeGuire/Getty Images

What is the most-nominated woman of the 2019 Grammys feeling just days before the event? As she puts it: “Total fucking gratitude.” But folk singer Brandi Carlile isn’t basking in the glory just yet. In her eyes, there’s still work to do.

The songwriter is nominated for six Grammys this year, including Album of the Year for By The Way, I Forgive You and Song of the Year for “The Joke” (just ahead of her are Kendrick Lamar and Drake, with eight and seven nominations, respectively.) Carlile also appeared in the Oscar-nominated A Star Is Born and recorded a ballad version of “Pretty Woman” for the film. Still, she doesn’t see her success as a reflection of the status of women in music overall. “I’m married to a woman, I have two daughters. I need to know my daughters have that kind of representation, and right now, they don’t,” the artist told Vulture at Warner Music Group’s Grammy Party on Thursday. “I want to see it come back. It’s not good when progress reverses itself for 20 years like it has.”

Carlile refers to the late ’90s, when female artists were at the forefront and calling the shots. “I was raised during the era of Lilith Fair, when women were commanding those stages, getting record deals, demanding the airwaves,” she explains. Co-founded by Sarah McLachlan, between 1997 and 1999, Lilith Fair celebrated women with performers like Paula Cole, Lisa Loeb, and Natalie Merchant. “They were ruling music, essentially, when I was trying to decide whether or not I could do this for a job. And because of them, I knew I could.”

Brandi Carlile Says Female Progress in Music Has ‘Reversed’