After decades in the music industry, GRAMMY and CMA Award-winner Brandy Clark is having a breakout year, in addition to her GRAMMY win, she nabbed her first Tony-Award for the Broadway musical Shucked, which she co-wrote, and has embarked on a national tour, performing in key slots at several high-profile music events. The Spoleto Festival USA 2024 Front Row Series performer discussed discovering her sexuality and how teaming up with another gay musician influenced her new album with the Los Angeles Times.  

Over the past twenty years, Brandy Clark has written some of the biggest country hits including Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart,” the Band Perry’s “Better Dig Two,” and Kacey Musgraves’ “Follow Your Arrow.” 

Revered country tunesmith Jessie Jo Dillon describes Clark as “universally revered,” among fellow country songwriters, “You ask anyone on Music Row, ‘Hey, you want to write with Brandy Clark?” and they’re like ‘Can we do it tomorrow?’” 

“Yet as a mainstream country act, Clark — one of the very few out gay performers in Nashville — [had] never quite broken out,” according to the Los Angeles Times. (May 2023) 

“Her previous studio LP, 2020’s “Your Life Is a Record,” topped out at No. 46 on Billboard’s country chart, and she’s cracked the magazine’s country airplay tally only once, with the typically witty “Girl Next Door,” which peaked at No. 39 in 2016.”

“Clark describes herself as a ‘late bloomer’ who didn’t know she was gay until she was in her early 20s. Once she discovered who she was, she assumed her sexuality would impede her success as a solo artist in Nashville. ‘There were no out country artists at the time — quite the opposite,’ she told the paper. ‘You’d always hear whispers about people who were in the closet, and it was just like, ‘Oh, that can never get out.’” 

In 2023, Clark teamed up with fellow queer singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile to produce her self-titled album, “which reveals a different side of a country-music songwriter known for more than a decade as one of Nashville’s craftiest and most meticulous storytellers.” The collaboration would result in Clark’s first GRAMMY win after 17 nominations, and more specifically in a “Performance” category versus songwriting. “Dear Insecurity” won Best Americana Performance at the 66th annual GRAMMY Awards.  

“I just believe[d] there [was] a different path for Brandy,” Carlile told the Los Angeles Times. “As a friend, I want her to be embraced by the fringe, by the marginalized, by the avant-garde outside the center of country music. I think she’s gonna find a home with the freaks in Americana. That’s where her music is anyway,” she adds, comparing Clark’s latest to brainy-soulful roots-music classics like Lucinda Williams’ “Car Wheels on a Gravel Road” and Shelby Lynne’s “I Am Shelby Lynne.” 

Clark’s self-titled album was released to overwhelming critical acclaim, landing Clark on several “Best of 2023” lists including NPR Music, Billboard, Rolling Stone, Variety, Los Angeles Times and Forbes, who dubbed the album “an Americana Masterpiece.” 

Don’t miss Brandy Clark’s Spoleto debut on Saturday, June 1, 2024, at 9:00pm in the College of Charleston Cistern. Get tickets here. 

Read the full Los Angeles Times article here