Her music smokes. She doesn’t. (Rumor has it, the lady is also indifferent to booze.)
The story of Melissa Etheridge’s storied career – she’s won two Grammys and an Oscar – can be summed up, Hollywood-style, in a digestible sound byte: Cold home. Hot performer.
Melissa Etheridge was born May 29, 1961, in Leavonworth, Kansas into a home she later described as “lonely” and void of emotional support. Music became her Linus blanket: the singer picked up her first guitar at age eight and practiced in the family basement. Even as a girl, she wrote from the heart of pain, love, and abandonment. At the prestigious Berklee Collage of Music in Boston, she learned to play the bones, but she dropped out before graduation, heading for L.A., where Etheridge met with early success.
When Island Records president Chris Blackwell heard Etheridge perform in 1986, he signed her a few days later. Her eponymous debut album became an underground hit and the single, “Bring Me Some Water,” was nominated for a Grammy. Hard core stardom came with the fourth release, Yes I Am (1993) with its two giant hits: “I’m the Only One” and the Grammy-winning “Come to My Window.”
That same year, the singer came out of the closet, choosing an inaugural ball for President Bill Clinton for the big announcement. Just over a decade later, Etheridge was just as public about the challenge of breast cancer, when the diagnosis came in 2004. In 2005, she showed up at the Grammys bald from chemotherapy and delivered a hard-driving rendition of Janice Joplin’s “Piece of My Heart.” (She was at the time and remains cancer free.)
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