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Brandi Carlile Discusses Using Her Platform to ‘Encourage Women’ to Support Each Other

THE BOOT - October 22, 2018

As she gears up for her inaugural Girls Just Wanna Weekend Festival in January of 2019, Brandi Carlile says that, for her, the festival’s all-women lineup is a return to one of the musical events that inspired her the most as a teenager. Furthermore, the Americana star explains, she’s hoping that it will kick-start a larger movement for female artists onstage and beyond.

“I came of age during the Lilith Fair movement,” Carlile explains to The Boot. “I went to all three of them in my hometown, in the Gorge [Amphitheater], outside of Seattle, in Washington state. It was transformative, and I think that the opportunity that women were given to headline and be a part of that festival, it bled over into everything from radio to record sales, appearances and acknowledgement from the news media.”

Since that time, Carlile goes on to say, she’s seen a decline in representation for women in music: “I’m noticing that things are getting worse since the ’90s in regards to women being included in festivals and at some of the major venues across the country,” she notes. It was in response to that drop in inclusion that Carlile decided to launch Girls Just Wanna Weekend to prove that not only do audiences want to hear women, but they want to go to festivals headlined exclusively by female artists.

Additionally, the singer says, she hopes this festival will inspire women to work together: “I wanted to start that festival as a way to encourage women on all levels, in the bands and the clubs all the way up to the arenas, to employ, support and work with other women,” she adds.

Carlile has inspired many younger performers, especially female artists and those in the LGBTQ community, in the way that she herself drew inspiration from the performers at Lilith Fair. However, she says that she has trouble wrapping her mind around that distinction.

“I almost can’t fathom it,” Carlile explains. “Just like when I tell Sheryl [Crow] she’s that person for me, she can’t fathom it. She almost doesn’t wanna hear it.”

However, as someone who grew up with these mentors, Carlile knows how important it is for young people — especially those who don’t necessarily see many role models they can identify with in the public eye — to be able to look up to someone who speaks to their identity. “I think it’s an incredible honor and duty to be that for other women, young women, especially LGBTQ women, because gay artists and LGBT artists were a pillar of light and hope in my life,” she says.

Despite the decline in festivals and shows booking women, Carlile says she sees reason to be optimistic about the future of women and LGBTQ artists in country and Americana music.

“I think we’re about to see the second wave of the great real protest writers,” she adds.