Carlile took the stage for her first number rocking a gold tuxedo and belted out her song "Broken Horses" into a golden mic.
Flanked by twin backing guitar players -- Phil and Tim Hanseroth -- Carlile brought a rock-star energy and emotional depth to Studio 8H that proved to be a powerhouse of a debut performance.
For her second set of the night, Carlile shimmered in a sequin-covered black and white tux, and stunned with a rendition of her single "Right on Time."
Starting quiet and reserved, the impressive tune begins with a slow burn into a big, powerful vocal showcase that raised the bar for musical guests for the rest of the season.
As Carlile explained on Friday, in a post on Instagram, her SNL appearance is a culmination of years of aspiration and hard work.
She posted a snapshot from rehearsal, showing her sitting cross-legged on the stage and smiling broadly. The post contained a second photo, from three years ago, when she sat on the same stage while visiting the studio after a performance on Late Night With Seth Meyers, which records in the same building.
"How it started vs how it’s going🤘🏼❤️," Carlile wrote, before reposting her caption from a few years back. "Repost Aug. 21, 2018: On a recent trip to NYC when I was lucky enough to perform on @latenightseth I wandered accidentally into the SNL studio looking for the bathroom! I saw the stage and it took my breath away... I don’t know why but I’ve always seen it as a definitive “ok now you’re a rockstar” moment in a persons musical life...I just HAD to grab a pic on the iconic Saturday Night Live stage. 🤘ONE DAY we’ll get there man! Dreams come true everyday. 💪🏼🇺🇸💥"
Carlile's SNL debut coincided with Jason Sudeikis' hosting debut. The former castmember returned to Studio 8H after leaving the show in 2013, and led the show in the funniest episode of the season thus far.
Saturday Night Live returns on Nov. 6 -- hosted by Succession's Kiernan Culkin and musical guest Ed Sheeran. SNL airs live, coast-to-coast, at 11:30 p.m. ET, 8:30 p.m. PT on NBC.