It's not like Sara Bareilles has never been nominated for a Grammy award before. But after a decade in the music game and three previous nods for her hits "Love Song" and "King of Anything," the phone call last Friday about her biggest honor to date completely blew the singer's mind.
"It's a pretty cool thing to be getting used to," she said of her shot at wining Album of the Year for her very personal song cycle The Blessed Unrest. "It's very surreal. Such an incredible honor, I'm so grateful."
Bareilles was in Las Vegas when the call came in from her manger and it's fair to assume that the people in the hotel room next door must have wondered what was going on. "I was at a NASCAR event actually getting ready to go downstairs to the ballroom to perform," she said of her reaction. "It's no secret that this was a big surprise to me. My manager called and then I proceeded to run around my hotel room screaming my face off and probably making my neighbors want to call security, because they were probably like, 'What is happening to that poor woman?' "
i seriously can't stop shaking and now I have to go sing brave by myself at a NASCAR event which is awesome but can't stop hyperventilating— Sara Bareilles (@SaraBareilles) December 7, 2013
Bareilles said she's still kind of in a daze about the honor, catching herself thinking about it every once in a while and marveling at how overwhelmed and over the moon it makes her feel.
Her first call after the big reveal was, of course, to her sisters and her mom and dad, who, she said, have always been "super supportive" of her musical career. And talk about an amazing day, the nominations were announced on Friday, and the next day was Bareilles' birthday, which she celebrated with a hometown show in Long Island, New York. "It was the best birthday gift of all time!" she said.
And sure, Bareilles has dreamt about an Album of the Year nod before, but actually landing one is a whole different ballgame. So, how does she feel about her chances against Daft Punk, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis and pal Taylor Swift?
"Well, I've always been the underdog and honestly, I know it sounds so lame and f---ing cliché to say this," she said, well aware of her darkhorse status. "It's an honor being nominated!, but really honestly this is such an incredible gift and I'm really going in just enjoying every minute of this."
Without a cool robot outfit, mega-smash radio hit or multiplatinum album to bring her to the table, Bareilles said she thought she got in the mix based on something totally old-school and quirky: honesty. "I made this record from a really broken place personally," she said. "In my opinion it's got a lot of heart, and that's my wheelhouse ... It's a f---ing miracle and I'm not going to sit here and question it and worry about how did it happen."
Inspired by what she called a "mild midlife crisis" that included the breakup of a six-year relationship, a move from her home of 13 years, California, back to New York and a rethinking of her entire life, Bareilles said the title, The Blessed Unrest, was also no accident.
And now that she's on everyone's lips as a surprise Grammy darling , Bareilles is also basking in the glow of validation from some of her longtime homegirls and Grammy competition (Katy Perry and Taylor Swift), new friends like "Girls" creator Lena Dunham and the co-writer of her Grammy-nominated single, "Brave," fun.'s Jack Antonoff.
"I think if we can make empowerment competitive, why shouldn't we?" she said of the battle between "Brave" and Perry's "Roar" in the Best Pop Solo Performance category. The song was inspired by a friend who struggled with coming out and Bareilles said that's what makes the nomination so special for her. "I can't say enough about how humbled and grateful I feel about being part of that song's story," she said. "It's a song that's taken on a life of its own and given so much back to me."
As for the most important question of all: has she started shopping for a dress for the Grammys, Bareilles said not yet. But she knows one thing for sure, her heels will not be too high because she's afraid of falling down if her name gets called.