Brandi Carlile: ‘I’m getting ready to take a break’

Carlile opens up about her future plans & Joni Mitchell’s return to the stage

After a whirlwind couple of years, Brandi Carlile is gearing up to take a break in 2023. The country singer/songwriter shared the news during a red carpet interview with The Music Universe earlier this month for an all-star concert celebrating Joni Mitchell’s Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song.

“I hope this doesn’t sound negative, but I’m getting ready to take a break — like a really long break,” she tells Matt Bailey when asked about what’s ahead for her own career. “I’m looking forward to turning inward to my source, which is my family. I’m re-evaluating what my next steps should look like artistically, musically, and as a person lucky enough to have a platform.”

Carlile wasn’t clear when she would initiate the break. She currently has concert performances scheduled through early August, including headlining night one of the two-night Joni Jam II this summer alongside Joni Mitchell, who’s playing her first headlining show in two decades. Carlile will also return on night two to perform as part of The Highwomen alongside Tanya Tucker.

Carlile has been an advocate for Mitchell’s return to the stage, but doesn’t take credit for it. Last summer, Mitchell surprised a Newport, Rhode Island crowd with her first on stage appearance in two decades at the Newport Folk Festival. It was then when Mitchell herself decided she wanted to play another show.

“I would say I’ve had a passenger seat view of her return to the stage, which is the great honor of my life. But being with her at the jams, you know, I was there the very first time she opened her mouth and sang again,” she recalls. “The very first word that ever came out of her mouth to sing again, I saw it happen. I’ve been watching this recovery in total disbelief. And part of me wishes we were documenting it, but the other part of me knows that it just kinda lives in our hearts and souls in a way that very few things do these days anymore. And I’ve seen it change from being an inspiring recovery from a horrific cognitive event to being musically pretty damn impressive.”

She continues, “And Joni, in my opinion, sounds better — and James Taylor said this to me last night, too — sounds better than she has in more like twenty, twenty-five years just because all of that perseverance, it’s in the voice, you can hear it. And she hadn’t been smoking so she has this vibrato back. And there’s this tonality that’s very preacher-esque in her voice. And I never fancied Joni Mitchell as a gospel singer, but I’m feelin’ that way now.”

Joni Mitchell: The Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song airs March 31st at 9 pm ET on PBS, and the PBS App. It will also be broadcast to US Department of Defense locations around the world via the American Forces Network. Besides Carlile, the lineup includes performances by James Taylor, Annie Lennox, Herbie Hancock, Cyndi Lauper, Marcus Mumford, Graham Nash, Diana Krall, Angelique Kidjo and Ledisi.

Buddy Iahn
Buddy Iahn

Buddy Iahn founded The Music Universe when he decided to juxtapose his love of web design and music. As a lifelong drummer, he decided to take a hiatus from playing music to report it. The website began as a fun project in 2013 to one of the top independent news sites. Email: