Singer-songwriter Brandi Carlile (L), her wife Catherine Shepherd and their daughters arrive for Dis...

Brandi Carlile Is “Finally Cool” To Her Two Adorable Daughters

The 2023 Grammy nominee was recently featured in a cartoon all about families.

by Morgan Brinlee
Originally Published: 

Grammy award-winner Brandi Carlile has been nominated for an impressive seven awards at the 2023 Grammy Awards tied to her seventh studio album In These Silent Days — Record of the Year, Album of the Year, Best Rock Performance, Best Rock Song, Best Americana Performance, Best American Roots Song, and Best Americana Album. But who are Carlile’s wife and children? Here’s a look at the acclaimed singer’s family and journey to motherhood.

Brandi Carlile met her wife in 2009.

Brandi Carlile first met the woman who would later become her wife in 2009 while searching for donations for her Fight the Fear campaign, a charity that provides self-defense training to abused women. According to Rolling Stone, Catherine Shepherd was the person in charge of managing Paul McCartney’s charity work at the time and arranged to donate some of McCartney’s memorabilia to Carlile’s charity from the United Kingdom. “We met through our activism and interest in charity,” Carlile told the magazine. “We communicated [over the phone] for about a year, and the entire time I thought I was talking to somebody who was 65. It was an interesting way to fall in love.”

Carlile and Shepherd married in 2012 and while they’ve never kept their relationship a secret, it wasn’t until Carlile rocked the stage at the Grammy Awards (and took home multiple awards) in 2019 that the pair’s relationship piqued the interest of fans.

They’ve since welcomed two children.

Carlile and Shepherd welcomed their first child together in 2014 through IVF. According to People, the couple used Carlile’s eggs but had Shepherd carry the embryo as pregnancy would make touring difficult for Carlile. They named their daughter Evangeline.

In 2018, Carlile and Shepherd welcomed a second daughter, Elijah, whom they conceived through Intrauterine insemination (IUI) due to Shepherd’s previous struggle with IVF hormones. According to People, a long-time childhood friend of Carlile’s donated the sperm used to conceive both of Carlile and Shepherd’s daughters.

The singer has opened up about her journey to motherhood.

But because her journey to motherhood didn’t involve pregnancy, Carlile has said she initially felt confused as to what her role in the family would be. In 2021, Carlile released her memoir Broken Horses, in which she opened up about becoming a mother through IVF and artificial insemination and with her initial struggle to accept that it would be her wife who carried their children. “I didn't talk about it at first because I was really embarrassed,” she told USA Today. “I felt like I had been downgraded from mother to partner — or worse, to dad, which didn't fit my gender identity.”

Carlile said she came to realize that children are indoctrinated with heteronormative imagery of families from an early age. As a result, she found it hard to imagine herself in the role of mother without being pregnant. “It doesn't provide me a space to imagine myself in that role if I'm not pregnant,” she said. “Cut to all the birthing classes, visits to the doctor, and even the marketing and things you have to buy — they're all so focused on hetero norms that it can be really hard to find your way into [same-sex] parenting unless you get really imaginative and seek out representation. And that's what we had to do in the end.”

Her advice to other families.

Ultimately, Carlile said she’s come to terms with the way her family was formed and hopes her story helps other parents. “I made peace with knowing that there was some pioneering involved in what we were doing, to the point where there wasn't even a two mother template on a birth certificate yet,” she told People. “There is now, but psychologically, all these things are really hard. And the high dive into parenting is a complicated leap to take anyway.”

“I'm hoping people see through my story that there's no right or wrong way to evolve into a parenting role in either heterosexual or same-sex relationships,” she continued. “There are different, complicated dynamics, and there are many ways to feel. The more we talk about it and normalize it, the easier it is to understand that your parenting journey is custom. It really is your own.”

She was recently featured in a children’s show about different kinds of families.

Perhaps in an effort to become the change she wished to see in the world, Carlile made a special appearance on the YouTube original for kids Jam Van in an episode titled “Anne & Lamb Find A Family with Brandi Carlile.” In it, Anne and Lamb are visiting Seattle, Washington (not far from Carlile’s home!) but Anne’s feeling homesick and missing her family. Carlile helps to teach Anne about the concept of “found families,” and that there’s only ingredient you need for a family – love – and performs the song “One Sacred Thing” to drive home the lesson.

Her daughters appear to approve.

“This is amazing!” Elijah says as she watches “mumma” in the video.

“You did it Brandi,” Shepherd says off-screen, “You’re finally cool!” To which Carlile raises her mug in celebration.

We’ll drink to that, and this adorable family, too.

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