“To my stylist Maryam’s dismay, me and Tanya may march into Manuel [Cuevas]’s [boutique] and have him fit us for matching suits for this,” she told Billboard hours after learning of her nominations for this year’s ceremony. “How cool would that be?”
Carlile and Tucker are fans of Cuevas’ nudie suit, the boldly embellished and embroidered uniform of choice for country stars fit for big shows and special occasions — and that would make the nudie suit an appropriately celebratory choice. Though 2019 kicked off with three wins at the 61st annual Grammys for Carlile, she’s been nominated in three categories this year — and all for collaborations, including her work with Tucker on While I’m Livin’, the rambunctious country singer’s first album in 17 years. Carlile co-produced While I’m Livin’ — which is nominated for best country album — with Shooter Jennings, and “Bring My Flowers Now,” which she co-wrote for Tucker, earned Carlile nods in both the song of the year and best country song categories.
Additionally, “Common,” her duet with Maren Morris — who’s a member of country supergroup The Highwomen with Carlile, Amanda Shires and Natalie Hemby — was recognized as a contender for best country duo/group performance.
Below, Carlile reacts to this year’s Grammy nominations and considers how they reflect some of the highlights of one of her most collaborative years yet.
Not many people get to collaborate with one of their heroes — and then there’s an even more select few who get nominated for that effort. How are you feeling right now?
I mean, I am beside myself. I am so frickin’ proud of Tanya. Everything that she went through to make this happen, the demons that she slayed to get this done, most people will never know. It’s an emotional thing for me that goes way beyond music and the music business. It’s been pretty transformative today…. I’m particularly proud of [these nominations]. I think that they’re profound and revolutionary in a lot of ways — for Tanya’s age, the fact that we’re women, that she’s chosen to be represented by an LGBTQ person and the fact that we have a song that is written from a place of such honesty that it’s practically a musical autobiography.
Have you spoken with her today?
Oh, yeah. She called me at frickin’ 5 o’clock in the morning. [Laughs] Everybody should have Tanya Tucker as an alarm clock because she’s a hilarious redneck!
Last year was a great one for you at the Grammys, but this year is unique because every single one of your nominations came from a collaboration.
I’m the weirdest person to have a band called Brandi Carlile, because I really am a collaborator. I don’t like doing anything alone. I’ve never spent a day alone since I was, like, 11. I don’t do alone time, and I don’t do alone music. It feels, to me, really authentically powerful that I’m getting recognized for the things I do with other people. I just want to support my friends and make the music that I love.
I also love that your song with your fellow Highwoman Maren Morris, “Common,” is nominated. Between working with Tanya and this collaboration with Maren, this is a bit of an abbreviated reflection of your 2019. What do these nominations say about your work right now?
The whole thing this morning was really kind of a — I don’t want to say it was bittersweet, because I was so excited, but on the other hand, I know that Maren made such a beautiful album. She and her team worked so hard this year. I know Maren is a lot like me in that she loves the Grammys. I think that she probably would’ve liked to have seen more of a presence with her beautiful album, but she’s such a gracious person that I’m sure she’ll have many, many opportunities over the years. So when I saw that I was nominated with her for singing “Common” together, I feel like that was appropriate, because we’ve always had a way of extending a hand to one another, and it makes me proud to have been a support for her in that.
When we’re looking at the categories in which you’re nominated, and the categories that While I’m Livin’ is nominated in, I’m thinking about the category for the country album of the year — and I think it’s fantastic that 60% of the nominees are women. How does that make you feel about the state of country, especially regarding gender equality and the representation of women at awards ceremonies like the Grammys?
I loved it, and also, two of the women were over 50, which is so incredible for the representatives of country music and country music peers to have seen that, and to not only genuinely honor women in that genre, but to have honored women who aren’t necessarily in their 20s, it blew me away. I was so frickin’ proud to have ties to that music…. [Tanya Tucker] has got luck on her, I tell you what. She has since she was 13-years-old. When Tanya puts her heart into something, nobody can deny it.
Are you doing anything today to celebrate these nominations?
Well, the twins [bandmates Tim and Phil Hanseroth] are coming over and we’re gonna have some champagne. I’m sick — I’ve got this throat infection thing — but I’m kind of walking on clouds today. I’m as excited as I could be. I’m excited for other people. I’m so excited for Tanya and Maren.