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“I’m a little older than most people when they first start doing it, as far as like coming out as an artist,” country singer-songwriter Brandy Clark says. “I thought, ‘Oh, that’s just something that’s not going to happen to me.'”
Over the past few years the thirty-something native of Washington state has established herself as a preeminent Nashville songwriter. Clark is part of a Music Row collective writing smarter, more sophisticated songs, many of which have become major hits — from “Mama’s Broken Heart” for Miranda Lambert to “Better Dig Two” for The Band Perry. And if you saw this year’s Grammy Awards, no doubt you remember Kacey Musgraves performing Clark’s twangy gay-affirming anthem “Follow Your Arrow.”
But since last fall Clark has also started gaining attention as a singer and an artist in her own right, with the release of her tremendous, and tremendously entertaining, debut album 12 Stories.
“I’ve never thought my stuff was that far off what country radio was, which I grew up listening to,” she says, “but I think it is quite a bit off of what country radio currently is.” All it takes is a glance at the song titles to see how off from conservative-leaning country Clark’s sharp songs are: “Illegitimate Children,” “The Day She Got Divorced” and current single “Get High.”
“I think life is a dark comedy, so to me my songs are kind of dark comedy, a lot of them,” she says. “Tough subject matter but really delivered a little bit tongue in cheek.
“Some of those songs are closer to me than others, as far as my own personal experiences,” continues Clark, who sees herself as a storyteller, telling stories that go beyond just her own experiences. And her own experiences in Nashville, where she moved at the age of 21, have been good, or at least free of outright homophobia and discrimination.
“I’ve been very fortunate in that I’ve been working with a lot of other gay people in the industry … and we’ve all been pretty successful.”
Brandy Clark performs Wednesday, May 28, at 7:30 p.m., at The Birchmere, 3701 Mount Vernon Ave., Alexandria. Tickets are $20. Call 703-549-7500 or visit birchmere.com.