St. Vincent Presents Olivia Rodrigo the Variety Storyteller Award With Glowing Speech About Her Songwriting


In order to be a good storyteller, one must—to quote Olivia herself—pay attention to things most people ignore. Olivia sees the cracks and contradictions in herself and others and makes the ineffable understandable and transformational for her listeners. Her honest songs about the impossible task of growing up have liberated so many young people fighting and fumbling their ways through the same experiences. But it’s not merely paying attention that matters to the craft of songwriting. It’s also how you observe and how you listen.

And that’s what’s special about Olivia, and why her fans consider her songs their personal rallying cries, is that she bears witness from a place of openness and compassion. Her authenticity—not an affect, not a brand—allows her listeners to step inside her songs as their complete selves: struggling, searching, celebrating, just living. Just being. Olivia’s songs pull off the magic trick of sounding like all of us at once, but also uniquely just like her. I call that a sly generosity, which is a beautiful thing to witness and to hear, and it’s one of the reasons I’ve so enjoyed getting to know Olivia over the past few years.

Olivia is, to me, how should I say it…a precious baby angel muffin, but if a precious baby angel muffin was tough as nails and cool as hell and fuckin’ loved the Breeders. She is shockingly talented, whip smart, and to me, the most important combination, curious and kind. These attributes make her great and will make her a great storyteller for years to come. Olivia’s listening, she’s asking, she’s interrogating the cracks in herself and in humanity. But because of her empathy, what she brings to the surface in her songs are the small frailties and the slivers of joy—those threads that make up our every single day. She pays attention to the things most people ignore, and makes them not just seen, but makes them shine. So I’m happy to call her a friend. Congratulations, Olivia.