Just Leap ... or So Advises Melissa Etheridge, Who Not Only 'Came Out' but Announced Her Partner's Pregnancy. Now the Fearless Rocker's Leaping into Acting

By Kening, Dan | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), October 11, 1996 | Go to article overview

Just Leap ... or So Advises Melissa Etheridge, Who Not Only 'Came Out' but Announced Her Partner's Pregnancy. Now the Fearless Rocker's Leaping into Acting


Kening, Dan, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Dan Kening Daily Herald Music Critic

The scoop

- Who: Melissa Etheridge

- Where: Rosemont Horizon, 5400 N. River Road, Rosemont

- When: 8 p.m. Saturday

- Tickets: $35-$45; (312) 559-1212

Honesty has always been one of the hallmarks of whiskey-voiced rocker Melissa Etheridge, who performs in concert Saturday at the Rosemont Horizon.

That sense of middle American directness and passion has resulted in such Top 40 anthems as "Bring Me Some Water," "Ain't It Heavy," "I'm the Only One" and "Come To My Window."

When Etheridge, 35, publicly "came out" as a lesbian nearly four years ago at one of Bill Clinton's presidential inauguration balls, most longtime fans, who tend to be fist-pumping, Dockers-clad Main Street U.S.A. types, reacted with a collective shrug.

So what has been their reaction since Etheridge and life partner Julie Cypher announced in August that Cypher is pregnant and expecting in January?

"The reaction has been overwhelmingly positive from the fans," Etheridge said during a recent phone interview. "The current tour has basically turned into the 'Baby Shower Tour.' I've gotten more baby clothes from fans than we can use in a lifetime, so now we're donating them to children's hospitals."

Not all the reaction has been positive, however. Gay parenting is a controversial topic for many, and Etheridge, who will appear in an upcoming Newsweek cover story on the subject, admits that she's received more negative press for the announcement than she did when she came out.

"Pregnancy seems to hit a nerve with some people - it hits their religious side," she said. "You get that 'It's OK if they go off and do it by themselves, but you shouldn't bring children into it' reaction. It starts to touch on people's fear and nerves. But I refuse to let fear run my life."

That fearlessness has ironically, coincided with an upsurge in Etheridge's popularity and record sales since she announced she was gay. Her coyly titled 1993 album "Yes I Am" sold five million copies and established her as an amphitheater-level concert draw. Etheridge's latest album, "Your Little Secret," has spun off the hit single title track and "An Unusual Kiss," while a third single, "Nowhere To Go," has just been released.

There have been a few changes, though. Where once Etheridge's songs tended to be nongender specific, several romantic songs on "Your Little Secret" make direct references to "hers" and "shes." Etheridge says that coming out has freed her in her song writing.

"Two of the best songs I've ever written, 'Shriner's Park' and 'Nowhere To Go,' come directly from that," she said. "I've really been able to open that part of my life and write about it. Both of those songs come out of that adolescent, young adult period in which I was scared and confused. Before I would have kept away from that in my writing, but now I'm able to go back and write about it truthfully. That's been a great thing for me. …

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