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She's one of the lesbian world's most iconic
singer songwriters, but Melissa Etheridge
is reluctant to accept the mantle of role
model preferring to think of herself as just an
ough there is nothing ordinary about this
extraordinary woman, a two-time Grammy
winner, an Oscar winner, a mother and a cancer
sur vivor -- she wears a lot of hats... ough when
Etheridge rst picked up a guitar at the age of
eight, Oscars and Grammys were not in her
vocabulary, she was just a simple small town girl
with a passion for music, something her family
found di cult to understand. No camp re songs
for this youngster...
"My family was completely repressed,"
remembers Melissa. "It was all about work. ere
were not a lot of sing-alongs..."
She admits that she rst fell in love with music
"on my transistor radio and my little 45 record
"I just loved it and then my father brought a
guitar home for my older sister. She was about
four years older than me -- and they said I was too
young to play it -- and Dad and the teacher were
like 'you're too young -- your ngers will bleed'.
But I was determined."
In fact Etheridge can't recall a time that she
didn't want to be a singer, "when I was three or
four they'd ask me what I wanted to be when I
grew up and I'd always be 'I want to be a singer'".
e rst song she ever learned to play on
the guitar was 'Twinkle Twinkle' but it wasn't
long before Etheridge had graduated to more
di cult compositions. With high school over,
she packed her bags and headed o for music
college but before the year was out she'd quit
and decided to go her own way, explaining that
"In school I was a bit disillusioned -- it was a jazz
oriented school and it was very technical and I
was very right brained, so I wanted to just write
music and live -- so I took o ."
It was probably the best decision Etheridge
ever made, landing her in LA and on the road
to pursuing her dreams. In the twenty plus years
since, Etheridge has remained committed to
pursuing that career, and apart from her family,
singing and making music are the most important
elements in her life. She says she manages to nd
inspiration for her music all around her.
"Where the inspiration comes from is always
di erent. I always try to stay open to inspiration,
whether it's a thought, or something I want to
make a statement on and say this is how I feel
and I want to write a song about it -- what comes
rst is always di erent. It may be what feels right
-- sometimes I might just be noodling on a guitar
and a song comes to life."
ese days Etheridge says she consciously
sits down and makes time to write. "Since I had
kids -- I have to -- 'Mom's working from ten to
two' -- the older they get the better they get at
Of course Etheridge admits that having
children has changed her in so many ways and
thus changed her music too...
"I couldn't be in a relationship that wasn't
healthy for me and stand up in front of my kids,"
she says. "So I can't write songs like 'Bring Me
Some Water' any more. I can still sing them but
example for them -- so I search for happiness and
that's what I want to show them and that's what I
try to write about these days."
Of course as one of our most open and out
lesbians, Etheridge also plays her part as a role
model to the LGBT community, something she
nds both humbling but a little strange at times.
"It's funny. For something so personal, such
a private decision -- where you have to be who
you are cause it's not healthy to not be -- to have
it reverberate out in the world was an enormous
thing. I'm used to it now -- but I am grateful and
humbled and honoured to be considered a role
model but I was a little unprepared for all the
According to Etheridge for a time "it got to be
"Cause I never wanted to be the person on
CNN -- the talking head that is against the one
who hates gays -- but I do get called about every
gay thing that happens."
It seems whether Etheridge likes it or not she's
"a gay spokeswoman".
So did coming out all those years ago a ect her
popularity with fans -- was there a backlash?
"One of the decisions I made to myself was if
people stopped buying music or listening to me
'cause they found out I was gay then they weren't
really fans of the music in the rst place."
Of course record sales have proven Etheridge
is as popular as ever and over the years she's
picked up numerous accolades for her cra . But
what keeps the singer songwriter coming back
"Apart from my family -- my current
relationship is very inspiring," says Etheridge.
" e hope for peace in myself and the world is
inspiring. e con ict of reaching that peace is
inspiring. My whole delight in human existence
and spirit inspire me."
With this in mind, can we expect a new album
from Etheridge any time soon?
"Oh yes -- I'll probably do some new songs
when I'm down in Australia."
And an album? "It might come out right
a er. I've written a lot of songs -- I'm talking to
producers and ready to go."
As for her upcoming trip down under,
Etheridge confesses to be incredibly excited to be
coming to Australia again.
"I love it. I feel like I've collected you and
you've been so loyal. I'm really looking for ward
to the shows, playing the Sydney Opera House,
and Melbourne and Adelaide...all of it."
She admits that singing in front of a live
audience is still her "favourite thing to do.
"I love it -- even more so than writing. e
experience of singing and having people respond
Frontier Touring Presents Melissa Etheridge. For
more info on the upcoming July 2012 tour visit
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