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Behind the Song: Sara Bareilles' 'Brave'

By Shannon Carlin

If Sara Bareilles ends up winning the Best Pop Solo Performance GRAMMY for "Brave," she owes Sara Quin an Edible Arrangement or at least a thank you card.

Quin, one half of twin sister duo Tegan and Sara, suggested Bareilles team up with fun.'s Jack Antonoff, assuming the two would hit it off. She was right.

"He's the most incredible human," Bareilles said of Antonoff, her "Brave" co-writer, in an interview with "He's so inspiring, so funny, so dear and sweet and charming and talented."

The first time the two sat down to write together, Antonoff played a few tracks that he had been working on, one of them being the instrumental for "Brave." The duo then penned the lyrics, which were written for one of Bareilles' friends who was struggling to come out to his family.

Sara Bareilles Talks Pop Music & Crafting New Album, "The Blessed Unrest" by Audacy Originals on YouTube

With its chorus of "Say what you wanna say/And let the words fall out/Honestly I wanna see you be brave," the song quickly resonated with the LGBT community, including Star Trek alum George Takei.

"The messaging of the song felt anthemic to me personally," Bareilles said of  the song, which she wrote not only for her friend, but also as a way to address her own demons. "But I didn't really realize that it was going to connect in the way that it did, and it's really amazing to watch this song sort of take on a life of its own."

Related: With 'The Blessed Unrest,' Sara Bareilles Finds Inspiration - And Aspiration - In The Stars

Since releasing the Blessed Unrest single back in April, Bareilles has entertained a steady stream of fans stopping to share their own "Brave" stories. There's empowerment, and then there's something more -- the idea that a song has the power to truly touch someone's life.

"There's a video that's kind of gone viral online of a children's cancer ward in Minnesota," she said. "The staff put together this video that was very similar to the music video of 'Brave' and it's heart wrenching and gorgeous and beautiful and heartbreaking at the same time…It's a message I'm so happy to be the voice for."

Last year on tour, even before she wrote "Brave," Bareilles asked fans to share some of their bravest moments by writing them down on a postcard that she would feature on her website. "It's not like people were writing, 'I'm brave enough to win the basketball game,'" she explained. "It was like, 'I'm brave enough to tell my family who I really am.'" The stories that were shared actually inspired Bareilles to turn her "Brave Enough" postcards into an initiative. She hopes to get the concept into schools in the next year.

"It's a really reflective process to look at your fears in that way," Bareilles said. "And what I like about the concept of brave is that it's not about the outcome. It's about the intention of turning to face what scares you."

Sara Bareilles' The Blessed Unrest is also up for Album of the Year at the 56th Annual GRAMMY Awards, airing Sunday, January 26 at 8 p.m. EST on CBS

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