I’d like to start a photography project focusing on one human. Catching them in there everyday routine, no posing, no smiling for the camera, just being themselves. I think that would be truly beautiful.
If I were to name one artist who had a vice grip on my soul, it would be Brandi Carlile. I have been listening to her a lot lately, rediscovering her voice that isn’t even a voice. It’s a fine-tuned instrument that bends and trembles at her whim. I was seventeen years old when I heard and saw the video for “The Story” back when I was attached to Grey’s Anatomy. I fell in love with the song, like the rest of the world, but at that point, I don’t think many people, including me, knew about her sexuality. I was in college when one of my best friends re-introduced me to Brandi. She burned me one of her albums. I listened to it and found out that Brandi had been an out musician for a few years. I remember loving her even more for that little fact, and consciously deciding not to like her on Facebook out of fear that my friends would think I am gay (which I was, but was hiding from me and everyone else).
Tonight I “liked” Brandi on Facebook. I love Brandi. She was a guiding light for me when I was afraid to be myself. She was a role model. She is a successful, soulful, beautiful human being who happens to be gay, and such a tremendous advocate for human rights.
One of my favorite quotes is by James Baldwin. He wrote, “To be sensual, I think, is to respect and rejoice in the force of life, of life itself, and to be present in all that one does, from the effort of loving to the making of bread.” Brandi embodies everything about this quote. She emanates a sense of vulnerability, of strength, of intense love (of music, of fans, of life). And an artistry that no doubt developed over her lifetime, but is also innate, and something unique to her soul.
I went to her show in the fall of the year I came out. I wore Chucks and a vest, looking gay as hell, and sat in the balcony. She sung “Turpentine” and I sang, sang my heart out, in the three-part harmony. I will never forget that evening. It went a little like this:
I was deeply moved by this rendition:
And this song:
I’m basking in her magic.