I'm Lindsay Ferrier, a Nashville wife and mother with a passion for family travel, (mostly) healthy cooking, exploring Tennessee, and raising kids without losing my mind in the process. This is where I share my discoveries with you, along with occasional deep thoughts, pop culture tangents and a sprinkling of snark.
January 31, 2022
Well over a decade ago, I convinced my husband to go with me to see one of my favorite singers, who was performing in a small auditorium here in Nashville. I had been listening to her latest album on repeat and was excited to see her perform live.
“What’s her name again?” my husband asked after I’d bought the tickets online.
“Brandi Carlile,” I answered. “I really think you’re going to like her.”
As you can imagine, that concert ended up being one of our all-time favorites. Not only did Brandi have a spectacular voice and songwriting skills, but she had really gone the extra mile to make every minute of that show special. For one song, Brandi and her backup singers turned off their microphones and sang acapella. For other songs, special instruments and musicians appeared. Midway through the show, she even taught the audience a three-part harmony so that we could all sing along with her. After that performance, I knew she was destined to be a big star.
“I want to see her every time she comes to Nashville from now on,” I told my husband that night as we walked to our car.
“Let’s do it!” he agreed enthusiastically.
And we did see her after that, as often as we could. We got to watch her perform for the first time at Nashville’s Ryman Auditorium and we even bought tickets to her show in Athens, Georgia when we realized we’d be in town the same weekend. By that time, Brandi was well known, regularly appearing on late night shows and packing fans into mid-size venues. She’d married, had two young daughters, and was well-established in her career. At her Athens concert, we made friends with the couple sitting next to us (this always seems to happen at Brandi Carlile shows) and they told us they were geeking out because of the man sitting in the row ahead of us, who was holding an oversized iPad with sheet music on the screen.
“That’s Brandi Carlile’s vocal coach,” they told us. “He’s one of the best coaches in the world and he’s really famous. We follow him on Instagram!”
It was fun watching him watch her and make notes throughout the evening. Before the concert was over, she peered out into the audience. “I just want to thank my vocal coach, who’s here tonight, somewhere,”she said. “I’ve been working really hard with him the last year and I hope I’m doing okay!” Of course, everyone cheered. She was doing more than okay.
I’ve thought about that night often, because it turned into a life lesson for me. Here was a woman who already had one of the best voices in the world, an established career, a busy personal life, and millions of fans — yet she still saw room for improvement. She wanted to be even better. And less than a year later, her hard work paid off, big time. By 2019, Brandi Carlile was the most nominated woman at the Grammy Awards, with six nominations including Album of the Year, Record of the Year, and Song of the Year. That was the year she became a superstar and a household name. Today, she can fill entire arenas with fans. Would she have gone to that next level without putting in extra effort in the year leading up to it? Somehow, I don’t think so.
As I reach the midpoint of my own career, I want to channel my inner Brandi. It’s so easy at this point in our lives to enjoy the successes we’ve earned so far and rest on the reputations we’ve built. It’s easy to tell myself that I’m probably as good now as I’m going to get. It’s easy to settle, to simply be grateful for what I’ve been able to do so far and to try to maintain that level of work for the next few decades.
But I want to be even better.
Brandi Carlile is a reminder that better is always, always possible, and there’s no shame in seeking out experts, classes, books, whatever it takes, to get there.
This year, I’ve committed to improving my writing skills. For me, this means joining a writing group, signing up for writing classes, reading more books on writing, and making an honest effort to regularly write outside my comfort zone. It also means honing my photography and editing skills, which go hand in hand with what I’m doing online. I think I’m already pretty good at these things — good enough, anyway. But I want to be better. The payoff could be extraordinary — and even if it isn’t, I’m already discovering that the act of trying to improve and finding the courage to be vulnerable in my work is deeply satisfying.
So thanks for that lesson, Brandi.
I hope it helps you guys, too.