Country star Brandy Clark on finding her "musical soulmate"


Singer-songwriter Brandy Clark is up for six Grammys this year, bringing her total career nominations through the years to 17. But she’s never brought home the coveted golden gramophone. This Sunday, she’s hoping to change that.

CBS News’ Anthony Mason met up with Clark in Malibu, where she recorded her latest album, to learn more about her unique journey – from basketball star to country music star.

Discovering herself

Clark grew up in a mining town in Washington state. Her dream of becoming a country singer came from watching films like “Coal Miner’s Daughter” about Loretta Lynn and “Sweet Dreams” about Patsy Cline.

“I saw that as a little girl and thought, I wanna be that,” Clark told Mason in a profile for the “CBS Mornings” series “Road to the Grammys.”

She went to Central Washington University on a basketball scholarship as a shooting guard. Though Clark later gave up the sport, she said the discipline she learned while playing has helped shape the artist she is today.

At age 22, she moved to Nashville to find her way as an artist and discovered she was gay. At the time, Clark didn’t believe she could be a successful singer there while being openly queer.

“I just didn’t think that those two things could coexist,” she said. “It was devastating. But it was more devastating to me to be inauthentic to who I am,” Clark said.

“Musical soulmates”

The turning point for Clark was meeting singer-songwriter Shane McAnally. 

“He and I are like musical soulmates,” Clark said of McAnally, who introduced her to other artists like Kacey Musgraves.

When working with a songwriter, Clark said it’s important to have trust – even if you just met.

“I think it’s like dating. If it’s good, you get naked really fast,” she joked.

The trio co-wrote Miranda Lambert’s “Mama’s Broken Heart” and Musgraves’ breakout hit “Follow Your Arrow.” Clark and McAnally also collaborated on their first No. 1 country hit “Better Dig Two” by The Band Perry. 

Clark confided in McAnally that she still dreamed of a solo career but was hesitant to put herself out there.

“I said, ‘Do you think it’s gonna matter that I’m gay?’ And he said, ‘No, you’re too good.’ I mean, it makes me teary to think about it. I carried that with me. I still do,” she said.

Epic journey

In 2013, at age 37, she released her solo debut “12 Stories,” which earned her nominations for Best New Artist and Best Country Album at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards.

Around that time, she and McAnally also started writing “Shucked,” a musical about corn. A decade later, it opened on Broadway and has earned nine Tony nominations. 

“Did you know going in what an epic journey it was gonna be?” Mason asked Clark.

“No. Luckily, we didn’t,” Clark said. “You know so people would say this will take 10 years. And I remember us being so naive and arrogant and saying, ‘We’ll show them.'”

Clark was also nominated for Musical Theater Album for “Shucked.”

That means this year Clark has Grammy nominations across three genres: country, Americana and theater. 

“I’m not even gonna try to play it down. It’s pretty cool,” Clark said. “It was not what I even dreamed.” 

The 66th Annual Grammy Awards will return to Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena on Sunday, Feb. 4, 2024, with the show airing live on the CBS Television Network and streaming on Paramount+ at 8 p.m. ET / 5 p.m. PT.



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