“I am a lesbian redneck that literally lives to make actual trails in the woods with my four wheeler, and to be called a trailblazer is quite fitting,” Brandi Carlile quipped while accepting her Trailblazer Award at Billboard‘s 2019 Women in Music ceremony Thursday night (Dec. 12).
“The Joke” singer’s speech was also fittingly filled with a handful of jokes, but at the heart of it was an inspirational message about the importance of giving women a voice — especially women in music. “It’s gonna sound extreme, but I’m one of these crazy people that believes that all the world’s problems, from poverty and homelessness to war and even climate change, can be solved by educating and empowering women,” she said. “Because we hold up half the sky. We tell the story of the other half of the human race, and if we’re allowed to speak and lead, we can help alleviate these problems fundamentally.”
Carlile recognized the impact music can have on anyone, from school teachers to the people who bag our groceries, because “they’re the people who elect our leaders.” She added, “That’s why women have to have a voice at radio, they have to have a voice that can get to the general public. And nights like tonight are pushing us even closer to making that happen.”
Before Carlile took the stage, Maggie Rogers, who presented Carlile with her award, reminded the crowd of everything the singer has done to make her voice heard: Aside from her own music, Carlile produced Tanya Tucker’s Grammy-nominated album While I’m Livin‘ and started the outspoken quartet The Highwomen this year; on top of that, she’s a mother of two and a dedicated philanthropist.
Clearly a trailblazer in many ways, Carlile concluded her speech by wishing that her honor will inspire one young woman in particular: Her daughter. “My daugher’s career day was last week at school and she didn’t invite me — she invited my ex, who’s a police officer,” Carlile said with a smile. “So I’m hoping, because this thing is really heavy, is that this will finally impress her.”
For more, read Billboard‘s Women in Music Brandi Carlile feature.