Interview With Melissa Etheridge


Melissa Etheridge is known almost as much for activism as for such hits as “I’m the Only One,” but when she plays July 17 in Olympia, the singer-songwriter plans not to educate or advocate but simply to rock. “We’re calling it ‘The Rock Show,’ because it’s rocking,” she said in a phone interview with OLY ARTS. “It’s about coming in and injecting some rock and roll with some inspiration and making people feel better when they leave than when they came.”

Etheridge is at work on a new album, expected to drop by the end of the year. Though it will include songs about #MeToo and gun violence, she doesn’t expect to play those this time out. “This summer is just all the hits all the time,” Etheridge said, explaining she can barely fit those — plus a few deep cuts from her early catalogue, which she varies from show to show to give dedicated fans something fresh — into a two-hour show.

In the 30 years since she released a self-titled debut CD, Etheridge has won two Grammys (in 1992 for “Ain’t It Heavy” and 1994 for “Come to My Window”), an Oscar (for “I Need to Wake Up,” composed for the 2006 climate-change documentary An Inconvenient Truth) and numerous other awards. In 2011, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Her most popular album, 1993’s Yes I Am, released the same year she came out as lesbian, went platinum six times and spent more than two and a half years on the album charts. Etheridge will mark its 25th anniversary with a reissue including some songs recorded for but not used on the original album and with a tour, on which she’ll play the album from beginning to end.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of her eponymous debut Melissa Etheridge. “It’s been such a journey,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the longevity that I’ve had.” Way back when she was promoting that album, she said, people would ask for her definition of success. “I would say, ‘To me, success would mean that in 30 years, I would still be creating new music and … that I could still make a living as a musician,” she said. ”And I am.”



Melissa Etheridge


7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17




The Washington Center for the Performing Arts,
512 Washington St. SE, Olympia




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