Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Melissa Etheridge

Newspaper article Sarasota Herald Tribune

Melissa Etheridge

Article excerpt

Our interview with the singer-songwriter coming to Sarasota

Melissa Etheridge's smart, confessional songwriting and gutsy vocals have made her one of the most beloved rock 'n' roll artists of her generation. Coming to Sarasota on Sunday in support of her compelling, personal new album "This is M.E.," Etheridge has been in the spotlight since the 1990s, when she won Grammy Awards for the songs "Come to My Window" and "Ain't It Heavy." January's awards ceremony, though, will mark the 10th anniversary of Etheridge's greatest Grammy moment.

Bald from the chemotherapy treatment she was undergoing for breast cancer, Etheridge stepped on stage looking beautiful and performed a medley of "Cry Baby/Piece of My Heart" in tribute to the late Janis Joplin. It's one of the most memorable performances in Grammy history. To this day, Etheridge says, a week doesn't go by without someone mentioning it to her.

"It was a personal sort of nervousness, I didn't have any hair and just didn't want people to laugh or make fun," Etheridge says by phone. "But then there was such a warm response. It felt really great looking back."

For many fans, "Piece of My Heart" is now as closely associated with Etheridge as Joplin. Might Sunday's attendees at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall hear Etheridge sing her famous rendition of the Joplin hit?

"I will do it every now and then," Etheridge says. "If it's a special time, I'll pull out that song; like if the show is crazy and we're doing a second encore."

In the near decade since that amazing Grammy Awards performance, Etheridge has won an Academy Award, for Best Original song in 2007 for "I Need to Wake Up," a song she wrote and performed specifically for inclusion in the documentary "An Inconvenient Truth." Etheridge has also been honored in recent years with a star on star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Most important, she says, has been marrying longtime partner Linda Wallem, co-creator of the hit Showtime series "Nurse Jackie." Also, launching their own record label ME Records. These events are what informed Etheridge's new release "This is M.E."

"This album is all about that summer of 2013 when I decided to make big changes and fired my management and lawyers and took more control of my career, which had flat-lined, and decided to grow my business with my wife, who is a much better businesswoman," Etheridge says with a laugh.

"She really helped me and educated me and changed our new business and that got me more excited about making music on my own and with the producers I chose."

Etheridge will be performing a mix of new material and her greatest hits on Sunday at the Van Wezel. …

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