Melissa Etheridge (1961) American rock artist
Melissa Etheridge was born on May 29, 1961 in Leavenworth, Kansas. She got her first guitar at the age of 8 and wrote her first song at age 10. As a 12-year-old, she already participated in a country band. Etheridge had her first romantic experience with a woman at 17, which changed her life forever.
Leavenworth was a complicated place to be a lesbian, which was one of the reasons to flee to Boston after graduating from high school in 1979. She studied at Berklee College of Music, but in the meantime performing. She moved to Los Angeles in 1982, where she was signed by Island records four years later after a show in Long Beach. Her first (self-titled) album immediately went platinum in 1988, mainly thanks to Bring Me Some Water, which earned her a Grammy nomination. Her best single of the album (and of her career) ‘though was the intense Like The Way I Do that mainly got popular in Europe.
Her debut album’s successor Brave and Crazy brought Etheridge another platinum feat, with the emotional ballad You Can Sleep While I Drive becoming the greatest hit. Still, the raw electric blues rock sound was her trademark. When she left this rock path with the polished, dance-funky album Never Enough, many core fans deserted her. Nevertheless, the album resulted in her first Grammy Award for Best Female Rock Performance.
Yes I am (1993) was a traditional Etheridge rock album again. She won her second Grammy Award with the gentle Come To My Window. Simultaneously she exposed her sexual preference, at one of Bill Clinton’s inauguration parties, which set off Melissa Etheridge the Social Activist. Since then she has been a determined advocate for gay rights.
After releasing Your Little Secret (platinum again) in 1995, she performed onstage before thousands at Woodstock, carried out Piece Of My Heart during Janis Joplin's induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and performed with her idol Bruce Springsteen in her MTV Unplugged session. Etheridge’s most important event in her personal life came in 1997: She and her partner and filmmaker Julie Cypher celebrated the birth of their first child, Bailey Jean. David Crosby was the biological father. The next year, Cypher also gave birth to a boy, Beckett.
Her 1999 song Scarecrow was a tribute to gay-bashing victim Matthew Shepard. The track was part of the album Breakdown, also featuring the hit single Angels Would Fall. Etheridge and Cypher separated in 2000.