Brandi Carlile shares her two daughters with her wife Catherine Shepherd
Brandi Carlile has put her thoughts on motherhood into her music through songs like “The Mother.”
Carlile shares two daughters with her wife of over a decade, Catherine Shepherd: Evangeline Ruth, 9, and Elijah, 5.
The singer’s daughters often make appearances on Carlile’s social media. Evangeline and Elijah also walked the red carpet with their parents at the 2020 Los Angeles premiere of Onward and even made an adorable appearance during the 2023 Grammy Awards when they introduced their mom’s performance.
After Carlile released her memoir Broken Horses in April 2021, she opened up to PEOPLE about parenting her two daughters with her wife, noting that they had to blaze a new path forward as a same-sex couple raising children.
"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," Carlile said. "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."
Carlile also shared that she often worries about her daughters as they get older, explaining, "I hesitate to say things like, 'We all worry all the time — that's what moms do.' ”
"Because some moms are like, 'Oh, am I s----- because I don't worry?' ” Carlile added. “But no, I worry all the time that I'm doing it wrong or that I'm depriving them of something or that they're getting too much or that they won't have the life skills that I have because they're not poor or because they've only ever lived in one house or because they don't understand that things are hard in the world. We don't know how to tell them that yet."
From their appearances on stage with their mother to their pet kitten, here's everything to know about Brandi Carlile’s two daughters.
Evangeline Ruth, 9
Carlile and Shepherd welcomed their first child, daughter Evangeline Ruth, on June 15, 2014. The singer announced her daughter’s birth on Instagram, sharing a photo of the infant wearing a tree-patterned onesie and matching cap.
Evangeline was conceived using in vitro fertilization (IVF), harvesting Carlile’s eggs for Shepherd to carry due to the singer’s strenuous work and touring schedule. The Grammy-winning artist opened up to PEOPLE in April 2021 about how she initially “struggled” with the fact that she would not be carrying their daughter, but she ultimately "made peace with not being pregnant."
"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 explained. "There is now, but psychologically, all these things are really hard. And the high dive into parenting is a complicated leap to take anyway."
Carlile reflected on Evangeline’s birth in her memoir Broken Horses, sharing a short snippet of her book in an Instagram caption alongside a black-and-white photo montage of the mother-daughter duo.
“Born to two mothers on Father’s Day," Carlile wrote of her older daughter. "The midwife told us that we each needed a mantra for every time the world of motherhood felt like it was a template we didn’t fit into. Mine was: ‘I Am the Mother of Evangeline.’ ”
Evangeline’s birth was the inspiration behind Carlile’s 2018 song “The Mother,” featured on her album By the Way, I Forgive You. Carlile told Shondaland in February 2018 that when she turned 30, her desire to become a mother “got super intense.”
“I thought I was gonna be carrying, and when that ended up not being the case, it was a whole different set of surprises and curveballs and things to learn from,” she said. “And it’s been really quite the journey as a mom, but also a journey as a gay mom, specifically, because there are some really serious differences that I wasn’t quite prepared for. I didn’t have adequate mirroring.”
Carlile added that her models of parenting were mainly heterosexual examples, which in part led her to write “The Mother.” She also addressed her early concerns about her fear of not being “maternal” with her daughter, knowing that other people may be experiencing the same. She explained, “The love that I feel for Evangeline is insane. It’s intense, it keeps me up at night. But it wasn’t innate, it wasn’t immediate, and it was hard to learn.”
As for what Evangeline thought of the song, Carlile said that she “loves it.”
Evangeline appeared in the live music video for Carlile’s tune as well as a performance for Farm Aid 2020 On The Road, sitting next to her mom as the artist played it acoustic on guitar. Carlile has also sung “The Mother'' with Evangeline on stage at the singer’s festival, The Mothership Weekend, in May 2023.
Over the years, Evangeline has been known to help around the family home outside of Seattle. On Instagram, Carlile has shared several videos and photos of Evangeline assisting with yard work, including helping with the garden. In one post, Carlile wrote, “I can’t believe I finally have a helper crazy enough to work through the PNW rain with me!”
Evangeline has also proved to be plenty handy, with Carlile showing off her older daughter helping assemble a table. In an Instagram post, Carlile took a video of Evangeline drilling screws into the bottom of a table, with the singer walking her daughter through the process step-by-step. In the caption, Carlile wrote, “Dad Schmad.”
Carlile and Shepherd welcomed their younger daughter, Elijah, on March 18, 2018. The singer announced her birth on Instagram, sharing a photo of her newborn laying against her chest.
Elijah was conceived by artificial insemination in 2017. Carlile told PEOPLE the couple opted for IUI for their second child because Shepherd had “struggled” with IVF hormones. The singer said that for the couple’s second pregnancy, she was able to feel more confident in her role as a parent, even though she was not the one carrying Elijah.
Carlile opened up about Shepherd’s pregnancy and Elijah’s birth in an essay penned for Parents in January 2021, sharing that this time they were “ready for the birth” and had their “different but complementing baby skills nailed down.”
“I never felt a pang of the anxiety, guilt, or confusion that we wrestled with the first time,” she wrote. “Eli was enormous. Almost 10 pounds! She was a dream baby. We call her ‘joy bomb’ because she has just exploded joy into our world and she's finally taught our serious little Evangeline how to belly laugh.”
Carlile got her younger daughter a kitten, Zelda Rainbow Lavender Carlile, in March 2021 for her birthday, sharing a photo of herself cradling the tiny kitten against her chest on Instagram. Elijah and Zelda Rainbow Lavender were fast friends, with Carlile snapping a picture of the duo taking a nap and cuddling together.
Evangeline and Elijah also have a sweet sisterly bond. Carlile has captured several adorable moments between the siblings over the years, documenting their bond on social media. In November 2019, the singer posted a photo on Instagram of the duo embracing, writing in the caption, “When the kids go quiet and you come around the corner and see this.”
Carlile has also shared a series of snaps of the sisters enjoying a family vacation in Mexico, including multiple photos of Evangeline and Elijah holding hands as they walked on the beach and the resort. The singer has also captured her daughters in their more creative moments, including a video of them dressed in matching pink ballet outfits as they danced to Swan Lake around the house.
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