"Our friendship is an amazing one," Carlile told PEOPLE at Thursday's iHeartRadio Music Awards

By Reagan Alexander and Tomás Mier
May 28, 2021 02:01 PM
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Brandi Carlile, Elton John
Credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty; Karwai Tang/WireImage

You just had to be there!

Catching up with PEOPLE at the iHeartRadio Music Awards where she performed in a sweet tribute to Elton John, Brandi Carlile reminisced about her favorite memory with the legendary singer.

Carlile's "favorite story" with the icon, 74, is about a special moment after he saw her sing for the first time.

"This is the last time I saw him," the 39-year-old told PEOPLE. "It was really profound for me because I had been the biggest Elton John fan in the universe since I was like 11 years old and he had never seen me sing."

"And the next night we went to Joni Mitchell's house and he sat down at her piano, in the living room and he played 'Your Song' and I just remember sitting on the floor, next to Joni Mitchell watching Elton John play 'Your Song' in the living room thinking, 'How did this end up being my life?'" she recalled.

Elton John
Elton John
| Credit: fox

Carlile also spoke about her "amazing" friendship with John, who was celebrated with the icon award at the awards show.

"He doesn't really give advice," Carlile revealed. "He's one of those interesting mentors where he just sort of smirks at you and makes you figure out yourself."

"When we do talk, we send each other pictures, we both have an Elijah," she said, referring to her 2-year-old daughter and his 8-year-old son. "I came up just with so much intense admiration for Elton John. I think we find ourselves in a position of being soulmates. Our friendship is an amazing one. "

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Carlile got to honor John as she performed "Don't Let the Sun Go Down" in a touching tribute featuring H.E.R. and Demi Lovato. John also accepted the icon award that night.

"Being played on the radio, for the first time, you hear yourself and you're so excited. What this award means is that I still cover new artists," he said as he accepted the award. "That's what my life's about now. And when I do my shows, I try and promote young artists because they need exposure, they need the radio."

"I've had my time, as they say," he added. "I'm still glad people play my records, and I love that."

The iHeartRadio Music Awards aired live from Los Angeles from 8-10 p.m. ET on FOX.