Brandi Carlile Gets Back to Her Busking Roots

Last week, when Brandi Carlile was in Seattle to accept the 2019 Founder’s Award at the Museum of Pop Culture, she did so on the inside of the very building she used to busk outside of.

“My voice is in shambles. I still wanted to speak, though,” Carlile told the gala crowd — through her laryngitis — when she picked up the award, “because this is such an honor for me.

“And just to bring this back to reality, I might be the only recipient of this award to have busked and asked for money outside the building.”

Seattle legend has it that long before Carlile was even playing small local rooms like the Paragon Bar and Grill in Queen Anne, she discovered the Indigo Girls at 15, learned how to play guitar, and started skipping school so she could earn some money busking on the streets around the city.

And earlier this year, Carlile got back to those roots when she teamed up with Foo Fighter Dave Grohl to busk in front of the Pike Place Market. “Busking at Pike Place Market. Right where it all started so many years ago. Super special guest: Dave Grohl,” she wrote on Facebook when she live streamed the sidewalk performance.

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“I am a Seattle girl, through and through. I learned everything I needed to know about life and music in this city. And this means everything to me,” she told the MoPoP crowd, according to the Seattle Times.

The MoPOP Founder’s Award honors musical heroes and supports the museum’s educational programs. Since 2007, it has celebrated artists whose noteworthy contributions continue to nurture the next generation of risk-takers.

Carlile’s bandmates, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, performed at the event to pay tribute to her. And it was Tim who stole the show with best line of the night: “We love that this is the Founder’s Award. Because we’re so glad we found her.”

Alison makes her living loving country music. She’s based in Chicago, but she’s always leaving her heart in Nashville.