Melissa Etheridge biography
Melissa Lou Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American rock singer-songwriter, guitarist, and activist.
Etheridge is known for her mixture of confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock, and raspy, smoky vocals.
Born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the younger of two girls, to John Etheridge, a psychology teacher at Leavenworth High School, and Elizabeth Williamson, a computer consultant. She attended David Brewer School, which is still located at 17th and Osage Streets. She graduated in 1979 from Leavenworth High School (LHS), 10th Avenue and Halderman. Etheridge was a member of the first "Power and Life" musical/dance group at LHS. Her childhood home was at 1902 Miami Street.
Etheridge's interest in music began early; she picked up her first guitar at 8. She began to play in all-men country music groups throughout her teenage years, until she moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music.
While in Berklee, Etheridge played the club circuit around Boston. After three semesters, Etheridge decided to drop out of Berklee and head to Los Angeles to attempt a career in music. This, in addition to her gigs in lesbian bars around Los Angeles, got her discovered by Island Records chief Chris Blackwell. She got a publishing deal to write songs for movies including the 1986 movie Weeds.
In 1985, prior to her signing, Etheridge sent her demo to Olivia Records, a lesbian record label, but was ultimately rejected. She saved the rejection letter, signed by "the women of Olivia", which was later featured in Intimate Portrait: Melissa Etheridge, the Lifetime Television documentary of her life.
After an unreleased first effort that was rejected by Island Records as being too polished and glossy, she completed her stripped-down self-titled debut in just four days. Her eponymous debut album Melissa Etheridge was an underground hit, and the single, "Bring Me Some Water", a turntable hit, was nominated for a Grammy.
At the time of the album's release, it was not generally known that Etheridge was a lesbian. While on the road promoting the album, she paused in Memphis, Tennessee, to be interviewed for the radio syndication, Pulsebeat-Voice of the Heartland, explaining the intensity of her music by saying: "People think I'm really sad-or really angry. But my songs are written about the conflicts I have . . . I have no anger toward anyone else." She invited the radio syndication producer to attend her concert that night. He did and was surprised to find himself one of the few men in attendance.
Etheridge followed up her first album's modest success by contributing background vocals to Don Henley's album The End of the Innocence. She went into the studio and recorded her sophomore effort Brave and Crazy which was released in 1989.
Brave and Crazy followed the same musical formula as her eponymous debut garnering a Grammy nomination. The album peaked at #22 on the Billboard charts (equal to her first album). Etheridge then went on the road, taking a page from one of her musical influences Bruce Springsteen, and built a loyal fan base. Etheridge is a Bruce Springsteen fan, and she has covered his songs "Thunder Road" and "Born to Run" during live shows.
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