Etheridge Still Making Music Her Way

By Lamberson, Carolyn | The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA), July 17, 2015 | Go to article overview

Etheridge Still Making Music Her Way


Lamberson, Carolyn, The Spokesman-Review (Spokane, WA)


It's not often, if ever, that Melissa Etheridge has done any co- headlining when it comes to concert tours.

And Monday night in Airway Heights, it's one of few times she'll share a bill with two genuine music legends: Blondie and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, both acts Etheridge listened to as a young musician growing up in Kansas.

"This is new and very exciting," Etheridge said in a recent telephone interview, and later added. "I'm very excited about this gig. I'm really looking forward to it."

She cited the hard-rocking Jett in particular as an inspiration, not only for her music but for her independent streak.

"She was one of the true rockers out there. I just loved it."

Of course Etheridge knows all about independent streaks. For nearly 30 years, the singer-songwriter-guitarist has been crafting music her way. Her brand of bluesy folk rock earns easy comparisons to Springsteen, Joplin and Mellencamp, but she's no mere cookie cutter. Her first three records sold well, with "Melissa Etheridge" (1988) and "Brave and Crazy" (1989) both going gold. In January 1993 she came out as a lesbian, and later that year released "Yes I Am." That album, propelled by the hits "I'm the Only One" and "Come to My Window" sold more than 6 million copies over 12 months and earned Etheridge her first Grammy, for best female rock vocalist.

She remembers the early days of her career, when she would take her music to radio stations and they'd tell her thanks, but they were already playing music by a woman. She's thrilled to see how much the industry has changed for women musicians. Our interview was just days after Taylor Swift persuaded Apple to change their plans and pay royalties to artists during the company's free three-month trial. She thinks it's great to see a young woman wielding so much power in the industry.

"Don't you love it?" Etheridge said with a laugh. "I love how she's doing this ... I love the fearlessness of it. I think women have finally come out of that 'We can't make a noise, people have to like us. …

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