Out dynamic songstress stages benefit in Philly

Brandi Carlile has an early Christmas present for her local fans.

The dynamic musician, whose work blends alt-country and indie rock, will appear Dec. 14 at World Cafe Live, 3025 Walnut St.

Carlile and her longtime collaborators, Tim and Phil Hanseroth, affectionately known as The Twins, are here for a special performance billed as “Raise the Roof.” The show is a benefit for the Looking Out Foundation, which the trio founded in 2008.

The arts-based charity was established to support organizations working to improve their communities. Philabundance is the local beneficiary on this occasion. Organizers hope to collect 450 pounds of canned food for the group, which feeds hungry families throughout the Delaware Valley.

Among the evening’s highlights are a Q&A with the band hosted by WXPN disc jockey Bruce Warren and a showcase of homegrown talent, including soulful songwriter Vanida Gail and the folk collective Hezekiah Jones. Carlile will cap things off with a freewheeling set.

According to Holly Zipperer, who helped arrange the show, the evening will be a mixture of good music and good deeds.

“As an attendee, basically you are going to learn about all of the causes and things that the Looking Out Foundation has engaged in over the last year,” she said. “And it is also an opportunity for us to hear from Brandi herself how we as fans — and she’ll tell you in a minute that we collectively, the fan community, the people that are engaged in her music — are the foundation.”

That is certainly true for Zipperer, who resides in the Philadelphia suburbs. She went from being a Brandi Carlile fan to sitting on the board of the Looking Out Foundation. Zipperer, an educator by training, works with special-needs children, but music is her passion. In 2005, she heard Carlile’s music on a CD sampler and soon after saw her play at Tin Angel. She was hooked by the performer’s down-to-earth presence and ability to switch comfortably among genres.

“She’s been called singer-songwriter, she’s been called folk, she’s been called alt-country, and I like the idea that she’s not in a neat little package,” Zipperer said of Carlile. “She can sing Janis Joplin in one breath and Johnny Cash in another. Tammy Wynette, Stevie Nicks, she’s covered all this wide range of cover tunes, and it really allowed the fans to span across genres.”

By 2006, Zipperer and Roberta Goschler, a friend and fellow music-lover, created a Brandi Carlile fan community online called AgainToday.com. Since 2009, the pair has organized five annual Raise the Roof benefits, all right in Carlile’s backyard, Seattle.

When the time came to bring this hootenanny to the East Coast, there was no doubt where it should take place.

“As far as Philadelphia, that was Brandi’s choice,” Zipperer said. “She wanted it in Philly and at the World Cafe. That’s what the goal was. World Cafe and WXPN have been huge supporters of Brandi and the Hanseroth twins, and I think she really wanted to give back to the city for all that the city and its local radio stations have done to help her career.”

Philadelphia fans have already returned the love. Tickets for the event sold out within a week. Fortunately for those who cannot be there in person, a $10 donation via AgainToday.com will provide access via live streaming.

By any measure, Carlile’s career has been a success. The title track of her 2007 album “The Story” was used in a Chevrolet commercial that ran frequently during the 2008 Olympics. She’s also had three tunes featured in the popular television show “Grey’s Anatomy.” Along with that exposure, she’s had the opportunity to record with first-rate producers like Rick Rubin and to collaborate with both Amy Ray of the Indigo Girls and Sir Elton John.

Things weren’t always so rosy. Growing up in rural Washington, Carlile was often the only gay student in the classroom, which led to the usual hassles. Thankfully, she persevered. Always out, she typically answers questions about her personal life thoughtfully and with candor. In 2012, she married her wife, Catherine, who was charity coordinator for Sir Paul McCartney.

As Zipperer sees it, Carlile’s main message to fans is to be yourself, even if that means being different. The bandleader made that explicit at a Raise the Roof show in Seattle this fall.

“When you’re given the opportunity next time — and you will get one every day — to be apathetic or ignore need or just to plain be mean, don’t,” Carlile said. “It’s that simple. Just be weird. Just keep it weird. Make a spectacle of yourself and the way that you love. And let’s try to be more like kids.”

To learn more about the causes Brandi Carlile and her fans support, visit www.lookingoutfoundation.org.