Activists and artists are waking up, says Northwest legend Brandi Carlile | KUOW News and Information

Activists and artists are waking up, says Northwest legend Brandi Carlile

Dec 1, 2016

"I am really upset with Trump voters right now," local legend Brandi Carlile told KUOW’s Bill Radke. "I’m a little concerned as to why they are [Trump supporters], but I am listening."

Carlile grew up in Ravensdale in rural King County and now lives in Maple Valley. She feels a connection to rural America through her upbringing and love of country music has connected her to the Midwest and the South, but she was hurt by the election of Donald Trump.

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She said the question of what to do now, post-election, is the deciding question of the year.

"There is something I like about this country more this month than I did last month,” she said. “I felt that some of us who have a tendency to be activists or politically outspoken had been lulled to sleep a little bit by an administration that was really charismatic and we all felt pretty confident that things were moving in the right direction.

"Now that that might not be the case, I feel like I'm in a much more active country at the moment and a much more active artist community as well."

Carlile's music hasn't been overly political, but she said she has started to feel inspired to move in that direction. She hopes that her music will motivate people to be part of a plan to stand up and use their voice.

"Let's go to a rock and roll concert," she said. "Because that is what rock and roll concerts do." 

Radke asked her if she worried about having a Dixie Chicks moment — when singer Natalie Maines said on stage, "We do not want this war, this violence, and we’re ashamed that the president of the United States is from Texas." 

Carlile said she doesn't worry and that she is proud of what the Dixie Chicks' stance 13 years ago.

Every artist needs a good struggle, Carlile said: "The struggle to make ends meet breeds good art."

Musicians and artists in Seattle have ample opportunities to struggle. As the city grows more expensive, many lament that artists are being pushed out. But Carlile believes that life getting harder for artists in Seattle could be a good thing.  

"Artists don't go where it is easy," she said. "Wherever you find great struggle, wherever you find class division, wherever you find political discord, you're going to find artists — and that is really important." 

The chart-topping musician got her start busking at Pike Place and playing bars around Seattle. Radke asked her if she thought she could make it as a national music star if she were starting out Seattle today. For Carlile, "making it" is just doing music for a living.

On that note, she will be playing a rock and roll concert this Sunday at Town Hall