Brandi Carlile says to blame it all on Tanya Tucker.
Grammy Awards voters continued to show their love for Carlile on Wednesday morning, giving her three nominations — and a chance to win another trophy as co-producer on country-music star Tucker’s return to original music, “While I’m Livin’,” — as nods were announced for the 62nd annual awards show.
The news came 10 months after Carlile won three trophies and earned a standing ovation at the 2019 Grammys.
“I get it this year,” Carlile said Wednesday. “Last year I was shocked. But this year — and I’m not trying to pass the buck — but that Tanya Tucker, man. Nobody has a voice like her and nobody can tell a story like her. And people know it. When you put a powerful lyric with a voice like that it brings you back to when Johnny Cash did ‘American Recordings.’ People know it’s a moment in history.”
Carlile’s moment is continuing as well. The Maple Valley-based singer-songwriter received a nomination in the all-genre Song of the Year category for the second year in a row. This time it was for writing “Bring My Flowers Now,” a standout track from Tucker’s “While I’m Livin’.” Like many of the songs on “While I’m Livin’,” Carlile wrote “Flowers” with longtime collaborators Phil and Tim Hanseroth. Tucker also was a co-writer.
The song also received a Best Country Song of the Year nomination, and the album was nominated for Best Country Album. While Carlile and co-producer Shooter Jennings were not named in the Grammy nominations list for producing the album, they would receive gramophone trophies if it wins at the Jan. 26 ceremony on CBS.
Carlile said she viewed “While I’m Livin’” as a mission to help her idol reach the Country Music Hall of Fame.
“The Tanya Tucker album (‘Delta Dawn’) came out in the heart of a time when Dolly Parton was totally flaming her way through country music as well as Tammy Wynette, Patsy Cline, Kitty Wells,” Carlile said. “And nobody thinks of Tanya as being a part of that matriarchal generation because when she entered the music industry she was only 13 years old when she had her first hit. For those of us listening to the radio at that time, she was as prominent as anyone to us. In all fairness to the Hall of Fame, Tanya disappeared for 17 years. Now that she’s back, they have the opportunity to do the right thing and I think they will.”
Carlile also was nominated for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Common,” her collaboration with Maren Morris, a partner in all-female country supergroup The Highwomen. That means her peers nominated her as a performer, producer and songwriter this year, a rare feat for an individual artist.
She says the Grammy experience has been uplifting.
“It’s changed my life, too, if I’m being honest,” Carlile said. “Some people might think it’s not necessarily a cool thing to do, put that much credence in an accolade like that. But, you know, before the Grammys last year, I wasn’t in a lot of the positions that I’m in now. It’s been really helpful to my career and it’s been life-affirming for my family.”
Others with Seattle and Washington ties also scored Grammy nominations Wednesday:
Caspar Babypants — best known as the alter ego of Presidents of the United States of America lead singer Chris Ballew — was nominated in the Best Children’s Album category for “Flying High.”
It’s Ballew’s third career nomination, but the first as Caspar Babypants. He received two nominations with the Presidents back in the ’90s when songs like “Peaches” and “Lump” were runaway hits.
“Flying High” is Ballew’s 16th children’s album recorded in the last 10 years. He said Wednesday morning that he did zero publicity work toward earning a nomination, something he always wanted to try with the Presidents (but ultimately could not because of Columbia Records’ huge footprint).
“You get signed to a major label, that becomes impossible. Now I’m in charge,” Ballew said. “I am the label. I make all the decisions. So I decided I’m just going to run that experiment with Caspar Babypants. I’m not going to have an organized promotional plan, just the music. The music is my promotional plan, making it as good as I can make it so parents and kids are brought together and can really share the love of the same song.”
Ballew said he will probably attend this year’s awards. “I think I’d like to go. Who knows, I might win.”
Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament and his brother, Barry, were nominated for Best Recording Package for the “Chris Cornell” box set. Ament, a former bandmate of Cornell’s in Temple of the Dog, served as creative director and spent the better part of a week screen-printing pictures of Cornell for the project. Jeff Fura and Joe Spix were also part of the creative team.
Former Roosevelt High School student Sara Gazarek earned a nod in the Best Jazz Vocal Album category for “Thirsty Ghost,” a work that marked a tumultuous but ultimately artistically rewarding period in her life. It was the first nomination for the Los Angeles-based singer.
Natalie Grant, a former Northwest University student in Kirkland, was nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song for “Speak the Name,” with Koryn Hawthorne.
And 2018-19 Seattle Symphony composer-in-residence Derek Bermel was nominated for Best Contemporary Classical Composition for “Bermel: Migration Series for Jazz Ensemble and Orchestra.” The piece was recorded with the Juilliard Jazz Orchestra and the Albany Symphony Orchestra, not the Seattle Symphony, however.
Sub Pop Records also added to its list of nominations with Calexico and Iron & Wine earning nominations for Best Americana Album for “Years to Burn” and Best American Roots Performance for “Father Mountain.”