It wasn’t that long ago when Brandi Carlile was busking at the Pike Place Market, trying to figure out what cover song would draw a crowd.

At the Pike Place Market Foundation’s annual Care for the Market
Luncheon last Thursday, Carlile remembered wearing a permit around her neck and playing under the stairs “for the reverb,” or outside Flying Fish, where she heard the money was good. She worried that she wasn’t reaching people.

“One day, I forgot myself and my eyes were closed, and when I opened them, a small crowd had gathered,” she told the packed ballroom. “The crowds got big, and turned into thousands of people around the world.”

As successful as the Maple Valley resident is, she was nervous. “Musicians should do these things at night, so they can drink whiskey,” Carlile quipped.

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In the audience: Pamela Hinckley
, CEO of Tom Douglas Restaurants; Scott Redman of Sellen Construction; Seattle City Councilmembers Nick Licata, Tom Rasmussen and Sally Clark, who rang the Market bell that opened the luncheon.

The Market Foundation used the event to unveil the design for the new waterfront entrance to the Market, which Executive Director Lillian Hochstein called “the biggest transformation since the World’s Fair in 1962.”

Cal McAllister and Todd
Grant
of the Wexley School for Girls were there; the ad agency was just hired to handle the campaign for the new waterfront entrance.

Grant called the space between the waterfront and the Market “an unnatural separation” that, with the new entrance, will finally be bridged.

“This will be the steps to the city,” he said.

After her speech, Carlile returned to the stage with her well-worn guitar — I’d bet a flying fish it was the same one she busked with — and performed “The Story,” a song that starts out soft and then gets louder than thunder. Kind of like Carlile’s career.

At the front table, Carlile’s wife, Catherine Carlile
, looked on with one hand on her belly; they’re expecting a baby in June. A girl.

Later this year, Carlile’s Looking Out Foundation will relaunch its Fight the Fear Campaign, a community-oriented violence-prevention initiative inspired by the life and loss of Teresa Butz, a Seattle woman who was murdered in her South Park home in 2009. Fight the Fear will offer free self-defense training and support to those who have suffered violence across the country, wherever Carlile’s tour takes her.

On this day, though, she was focused on where she started — even setting her open guitar case in front of her one last time. (The money that people dropped in went straight to the foundation.)

“The Pike Place Market introduced me to my power,” Carlile declared.

Paris, natch

Hard as it is to admit it, there’s more to France than Paris.

That was the message for travel writers, editors and Francophiles when Atout France, the France Tourism Development Agency, hosted a luncheon at The Westin Seattle last Monday.

(Among the guests: the honorary consul of France in Seattle, Jack Cowan.)

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Omaha and other beaches.

The region will host a series of events, including the reconstruction of Allied camps and the unveiling of a Bell of Peace and Freedom at Bayeux Cathedral.

Normandy is also hosting the World Equestrian Games in August. And new museums are opening in the Rhone-Alps and the Midi-Pyrenees.

Marion Fourestier, the USA director of communications for Atout France, urged people to think of France beyond the City of Light.

“We love it,” she said with a smile, “but enough already.”

Sashing leading ladies

The University of Washington Women’s Center held its Women of Courage gala Saturday night on the UW campus. But everyone who attended had to brave something.

The 500-or-so guests trudged through the pouring rain in their cocktail best to honor 15 women whose accomplishments range from research to civil and social justice to education to health to art to politics.

Katherine Beckett, Heidi Breeze-Harris
, Louise Chernin, Lynne Dodson,
Mahnaz Aflatooni Javid
, Maria Koh, Mary Larson, Holli Martinez, Katya Matanovic, Anita Ordonez, Mary Pugh, Diana Rhea, Kshama Sawant, Jacqueline Sherrisand Jack Slowriver were all fitted with a purple “Women of Courage” sash, and stood on the stage to thundering applause — and a serenade by singer Josephine Howell.

Larson, who paints portraits of her homeless clients at Harborview’s Pioneer Square Clinic in exchange for hundreds of socks and other necessities, was definitely taking her sash home as a morale booster.

“You know,” she said, “for one of those mornings.”

Nicole Brodeur’s column appears Tuesday and Sunday. Reach her at 206-464-2334 or nbrodeur@seattletimes.com.