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Queer country rock icon Brandi Carlile thanks Seattle in Grammy acceptance speech

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Photo by Chris Pizzello / AP
Photo by Chris Pizzello / AP

Ravensdale-born singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile has won this year's Grammy Award for Best Rock Song for "Broken Horses," from her seventh studio album, In These Silent Days. Competing for the award were Ozzy Osbourne's "Patient Number 9," the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Black Summer," Turnstile's "Blackout", and the War on Drugs' "Harmonia's Dream."

"Oh my god, this is amazing!" she said on stage after accepting her golden gramophone. "I'll never be the same. My mom's out there. Theresa Carlile, Mom — I gotta thank you for telling me to stop singing so angry, 'cuz I obviously ignored that, like I ignored everything you told me to do."

She paused to let the audience laugh, and said, "But I cut my hair, and I learned how to scream, and I just won a Grammy for a rock 'n' roll song that I wrote with all my heart."

Carlile also thanked her wife and her daughters. Band members Phil and Tim Hanseroth chimed in with gratitude for their own family and friends.

The same song also won the Americana trio an award for Best Rock Performance.

"Oh, I cannot tell you how much this means to us," Carlile said. " We were born and raised in Seattle, and when I met these guys 22 years ago, we decided to get in a van and be a band together. And I met them, and they were covered in Ramones tattoos; they had never even played an acoustic guitar. And then this happened."

She thanked Seattle for her success, saying that everybody there "made us want to strive for this incredible accolade."

Photo by Sonja Flemming / CBS  

Carlile's wife, Catherine, and their two daughters, 4 and 8 years old, introduced the star's performance of "Broken Horses" at the ceremony this year.

"Millions of viewers watching tonight fell in love with the next performer four years ago when she took the Grammys stage for the first time and delivered one of the most iconic performances in Grammy history," Catherine said. "I was lucky enough to marry her more than a decade ago, so I was way ahead of you.

"It means the world to me to stand here tonight with our beautiful daughters by my side and introduce, in our humble opinion, one of the greatest, most authentic artists and human beings on the planet."

Photo courtesy of The Recording Academy  

This wasn't the first time Carlile had a prominent presence at a Grammys show. She has received nine awards — including Best Country Song in 2021 and Best Americana Album in 2016 — along with 25 nominations so far.

Carlile's career began in Seattle in 2004, when she and the Hanseroth brothers started performing in music clubs and recording songs at home. Since her breakthrough album The Story in 2007, she has been a consistent staple of the folk, country rock, and Americana genres, often topping the charts.

She has rubbed shoulders with the likes of the Avete Brothers, Shooter Jennings, the surviving members of Soundgarden, and more recently Joni Mitchell, with whom she performed last year at the Newport Folk Festival.

She and Elton John, one of her early inspirations, have been friends and collaborators for years; she performed at his farewell concert alongside Dua Lipa and Kiki Dee. As part of a long history of activism, Carlile hosted the 30th annual Elton John AIDS Foundation's Academy Awards viewing party in March last year.

Carlile has been out as a Lesbian since 2002, when she told the Los Angeles Times that "I hope that somewhere in Small Town, USA, a 15-year-old kid looks to me as a role model the way I looked at the Indigo Girls and Elton John as role models. And I hope they also recognize that the reason why I don't have a lot of formality around it, the reason why I don't have to wear it on my sleeve and make a spectacle of it, is because there were people before me who paved the way, so I wouldn't have to."