Entertainment Weekly


The Grammy-winning singer-songwriter—and passionate activist—shares some of the artists who helped shape her.

As a kid, Brandi Carlile wasn’t totally clear on the concept of songwriting. Upon discovering her first loves, Elton John and Bernie Taupin, she was initially discouraged. “I felt hopeless to ever be as good,” the 38-year-old Washington State native says. “Then I realized I didn’t actually have to learn to play and sing in ways [so] complicated. I realized, ‘I can make my own songs. They can start as simple as I need them to be to accommodate my level of musicianship, and as I get better they can get more complicated.’ It set my mind free.”

Thank goodness (and Elton & Bernie): Carlile has become one of the most acclaimed singer-songwriters of her generation. The devoted audience that has been evangelizing since her 2007 breakthough The

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