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Out on the Bayou
AUGUST 2, 2002
Lesbian rocker Melissa Etheridge puts
emphasis on the hopeful flip side of her
'Skin' album in this year's tour
By PENNY WEAVER
THIS YEAR'S SUMMER CONCERT TOUR IS ALL ABOUT
celebrating for lesbian rock'n'roll star Melissa Etheridge,
who brings her musical party to Texas next week.
"It is so wonderful. I think it's the most fun I've had on tour
— ever," says Etheridge, taking time for an interview with the
Houston Voice via cell phone while driving en route to her Los
Angeles home. "It's so easy It's such a celebration. The band is
phenomenal. The crowds have been — that's probably the best
part — I didn't know what the crowds would be like this summer, and they have been insane and really wonderful."
Surely Etheridge's legions of fans would describe her
as "wonderful" too, as they eagerly await the eighth album
from this Grammy award-winning singer/songwriter
known for hits such as "Bring Me Some Water," "I'm the
Only One" and "Come to My Window."
Etheridge's walk on the road of fame began with her
self-titled — and Grammy nominated —1988 debut and
has since been punctuated with events including her 1993
coming out, launch into parenthood five years ago, widely
publicized break-up with ex-partner Julie Cypher, and
recent hook-up with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels.
Oh, and she's produced six more CDs, a best-selling
autobiography and crisscrossed the nation on fan-pleasing
concert tours in the meantime.
The current tour reunites Etheridge with her band
after last year's acoustic "Live and Alone" venture.
"It was very introspective; it was very intimate with
the audience and there was something to be said about
that," she says. "I would love to do that again some time
because it was really a very special thing. It was kind of
healing and a growing and a journey, that whole thing, and
this [year's tour] is just a big party.
"It's a big celebration; it's a lot of fun," Etheridge adds.
"Skin" is divided almost in half, with the first five songs
focusing largely on heartbreak and despair, and the second half
more hopeful, including her release, "I Want To Be In Love."
"It's funny because...the last tour, 'Live and Alone,' it's
like I did the first half of the album, and this tour I'm
doing the second part of the album," Etheridge explains.
"It's the healing. It's cool."
In an interview a year ago, the singer prepared to go on
the road just after her autobiography, "The Truth Is...",
was published. The book included stories behind many of
her songs, and she was anxious to see what it would be
like to perform the tunes knowing that her fans were
"clued in" to their origins.
"The audience was very supportive, very much so," she
recalls. "It turned out to be a lot less painful than I
thought it would be. They turned it into a healing experience, getting all that out."
New hope, new music
NOW, ETHERIDGE CELEBRATES HOPE AND HAPPINESS
while on tour. That is a hint at the feel of her next album —
so far — which she expects to have out as early as next spring.
She's debuting some of the tunes in concert over the summer.
"On tour I've been doing at least one a night and sometimes
two," Etheridge relates. The new album is still in its eariy stages.
"I'm writing," she says. "It's a lot different material
"We recorded and filmed
the last couple of shows
on live and Alone.'
There's a lot of new and
yummy stuff on that."
— Melissa Etheridge
Lesbian rock star Melissa Etheridge makes three concert stops in Texas beginning Aug. 9, with an Aug. 10 show in The Woodlands on the
north side of Houston.
[than 'Skin']. Actually, the music is more rocking than
I've done in a long time.
"It's not that depressed, sad person — it's a very
happy person who's having sex and really enjoying
herself," she adds with a laugh.
Last year, Etheridge described "Skin" as "like
throwing up." Her upcoming album — like her personal life — is headed in a different direction.
"This one feels like after you've been sick and then
you get well and you look back and you say, 'Wow I'm
going to really appreciate well, 'cause I never want to
be sick again,'" she explains. "And now I'm well and
well is great and I'm celebrating well.
"It's a real celebration, like this tour is," says
Etheridge, but that's as specific as she can get so far
about the new work. "I haven't put enough of it
together yet to say exactly what it is."
She notes she'll have a new DVD coming out in a
couple of months with material from her last tour.
"We recorded and filmed the last couple of shows
on the 'Live and Alone' show. There's a lot of new and
yummy stuff on that," she hints.
Happiness at home
ETHERIDGE, 41, CONTINUES TO FIND JOY IN
raising her children — Bailey, 5, and Beckett, 3. She
shares custody with Cypher.
"They are wonderful. They make life worth living.
They're insanely great," Etheridge says of her children.
Gay parenthood has been increasingly a political
topic in recent years, particularly with Rosie O'Donnell
coming out and supporting the fight to repeal Florida's
ban on gay parents. But even though Etheridge is several
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