The Grammy winner and the U.K. native met in 2009 while Shepherd was working for Paul McCartney, coordinating his charity work. Carlile and her future wife spoke over the phone for a year before finally meeting in person.
“Really a lot of it was about activism and charity,” the Broken Horses author recalled of those early days during an interview with Howard Stern in October 2021. “But then one day something just changed.”
The Highwomen member has a distinct memory of the moment when she realized she thought of Shepherd as more than a friend. Carlile was on tour in Vermont when Shepherd came to visit her on her tour bus. “I hadn’t seen her for six or seven months and I had ended my [previous] relationship,” the “Right on Time” singer told Stern. “I saw her at the front door and it was like, ‘That’s it. Everything’s different. No day will ever be the same.’ I was just switched. I was totally infatuated with her, absolutely in love with her.”
The couple tied the knot in September 2012 in what Carlile described as a “falling down barn” near Seattle. “It was truly one of our best days, completely awkward and human and beautiful,” the “You and Me on the Rock” crooner wrote via Facebook one month after the nuptials. “I’m married to my best friend and nothing has ever brought me more joy than that.”
In 2014, the twosome welcomed their first daughter, Evangeline, who later became the title subject of one of Carlile’s songs. Their second child, daughter Elijah, arrived in 2018. In a 2021 essay for Parents magazine, the CMT Music Award winner opened up about how she and Shepherd navigated their journey to parenthood as members of the LGBTQ+ community.
“For my wife and me, every part of our emergence into the world of parenting was intentional and always felt a little like walking out onto thin ice, blindfolded,” Carlile wrote, adding that Shepherd carried both of their children. “It was complicated because I didn’t know who I was supposed to be in this equation. I knew I wasn’t ‘Dad,’ but I wasn’t pregnant either. Catherine was uncomfortable with all the things that were happening to her body, and the whole concept felt so foreign to us.”
Eventually, however, the pair found a rhythm that works for their family. “The way we approach parenting now feels instinctual, even natural,” Carlile explained. “We divide tasks by what feels important to us in the moment, not based on society’s expectations of moms and dads.”
Keep scrolling for Carlile and Shepherd’s complete relationship timeline: