Brandi Carlile sure knows to bring a crowd to its feet. The Grammy-nominated artist proved it with her rousing version of Dolly Parton’s “Jolene” at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium.
During her first of two sold-out nights at the Ryman, Carlile took requests from the crowd. After fulfilling the first fan’s wishes, the raucous crowd chanted “Jolene” so loud that the choice was obvious. Carlile did not disappoint.
Her performance captured a little something extra special, too. Earlier in the night, Carlile explained how Parton recently covered her song “The Story.” It all started when Brandi sent a handwritten letter to the country legend, asking if she’d sing the tune for an upcoming project. In a moment she now completely regrets, Carlile mentioned she could drop the key in case it was too high for the singer.
Parton sent back a letter on her own letterhead graciously accepting the offer. Oh, and the original key of the song would be just fine. Carlile told the crowd that when you hear Parton’s version, she actually goes above the original notes just to remind her who is who. Or, as Carlile laughs, “To take my ass to school.”
Carlile took to the hallowed stage of the Ryman for only the second time in her career. The main objective? Promote a new album called Cover Stories, featuring Parton’s rendition of “The Story.” That record features 14 different artists covering songs from her 2007 critical success The Story.
But the coolest part is that each and every penny from the sale of Cover Stories goes to an organization called War Child. The nonprofit organization helps children in war-torn areas.
Carlile says she launched the project to benefit the organization after having her own child three years ago. She realized that simply due to geography, her daughter would grow up safe while so many other kids won’t. So Carlile’s wife (originally from the UK) mentioned the organization War Child, and the rest is history.
Cover Stories comes out on May 5. The album features performances by legends across the country, folk, Americana and rock spectrum. Singers include Kris Kristofferson, Adele, The Avett Brothers, Dolly Parton, Pearl Jam, Margo Price and many others. Oh, and a forward by President Barack Obama.
Brandi Carlile says so far the project has brought in more than $250,000 of their million-dollar goal.