Nonfiction - Memoir
2021 Penguin Random House Audio
Narrated by Brandi Carlile
Finished on December 10, 2021
Rating: 3/5 (Good)
The critically acclaimed singer-songwriter, producer, and six-time Grammy winner opens up about a life shaped by music in this candid, heartfelt, and intimate story.
Brandi Carlile was born into a musically gifted, impoverished family on the outskirts of Seattle and grew up in a constant state of change, moving from house to house, trailer to trailer, 14 times in as many years. Though imperfect in every way, her dysfunctional childhood was as beautiful as it was strange, and as nurturing as it was difficult. At the age of five, Brandi contracted bacterial meningitis, which almost took her life, leaving an indelible mark on her formative years and altering her journey into young adulthood.
As an openly gay teenager, Brandi grappled with the tension between her sexuality and her faith when her pastor publicly refused to baptize her on the day of the ceremony. Shockingly, her small town rallied around Brandi in support and set her on a path to salvation where the rest of the misfits and rejects find it: through twisted, joyful, weird, and wonderful music.
In Broken Horses, Brandi Carlile takes listeners through the events of her life that shaped her very raw art - from her start at a local singing competition where she performed Elton John’s “Honky Cat” in a bedazzled white polyester suit, to her first break opening for Dave Matthews Band, to many sleepless tours over 15 years and six studio albums, all while raising two children with her wife, Catherine Shepherd. This hard-won success led her to collaborations with personal heroes like Elton John, Dolly Parton, Mavis Staples, Pearl Jam, Tanya Tucker, and Joni Mitchell, as well as her peers in the supergroup The Highwomen, and ultimately to the Grammy stage, where she converted millions of viewers into instant fans.
Evocative and piercingly honest, Broken Horses is at once an examination of faith through the eyes of a person rejected by the church’s basic tenets and a meditation on the moments and lyrics that have shaped the life of a creative mind, a brilliant artist, and a genuine empath on a mission to give back.
Let me begin by saying that until I read Brandi Carlile's memoir, I pretty much knew nothing about her life or rise to fame. I was working at Barnes and Noble when I first heard her album The Story, which we played day after day the month it was released. There are several songs on that record that I came to love, but after that first album, I never paid much attention to her music. I was aware that she had performed with my cousin, Kris Kristofferson, in 2018 for Joni Mitchell's 75th birthday celebration, so I was curious to read her memoir. I listened to the audiobook (which Carlile narrates) and in addition to learning about her upbringing and musical career, I enjoyed hearing numerous songs at the end of each chapter. In addition to those songs, there is also close to two hours of uninterrupted music in the final track. Overall, I enjoyed listening to the audiobook, but it wasn't the hit I had hoped for.
I received a complimentary copy from Libro.fm. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
About the Author:
Brandi Carlile is a six-time Grammy Award–winning singer-songwriter, performer, and producer. Since her debut in 2004, she has released six studio albums and was the most nominated female artist at the 2019 Grammy Awards, with six nominations, including Album, Record, and Song of the Year. Founded in 2008 by Carlile, the Looking Out Foundation amplifies the impact of music by empowering those without a voice, with campaigns focused on children living in war zones, prevention and reduction in incarceration and recidivism, racial justice, violence prevention, food insecurity, and more. To date, the foundation has raised over $2 million for grassroots causes. Beloved by fans, peers, and critics alike, Carlile and her band have performed sold-out concerts across the world. Brandi Carlile lives in rural Washington State on a compound with her bandmates and their families, as well as her wife, Catherine, and their two daughters, Evangeline and Elijah.