Emily Ann Saliers was born in New Haven, Connecticut on July 22nd, 1963. The following year, her future musical partner Amy Elizabeth Ray, was born in
Atlanta, on April 12th, 1964. When Emily was in sixth grade, her family moved to Decatur, Georgia. Emily was enrolled in Laurel Ridge Elementary School where Amy was attending fifth grade. When Amy and Emily were both in high school, they began playing together under the
names "Saliers and Ray" and "The B-Band"; their first rehearsals were for a school talent show. Later the two progressed to playing open mike nights at local bars, despite being underage. In 1981, The B-Band recorded a tape called "Tuesday's Children" in Amy's basement.
The tape consisted mostly of cover songs, with an additional original song from each of them. In 1982 Amy recorded "Color Me Grey", a solo
tape consisting of entirely original material.
When Emily graduated from high school she enrolled at Tulane University in New Orleans, majoring in English. Amy moved to Nashville a year later to study English and religion (both the girls grew up Methodist, but say that they don't consider their songs to be geared towards Christianity) at Vanderbilt University. Dissatisfied with life away at school, both Emily and
Amy moved back to Atlanta to attend Emory University in 1984, and the two resumed playing together regularly. Around this time, both came out as lesbians, although Amy realized far before Emily did. The two were never lovers; at the 1996 Newport Folk Festival program Amy states, "I always think of Emily as the perfect best friend. I guess one of the reasons we've always been like this is that we've always had the same kind of
relationship. The nature of it never changed - we never had a sexual encounter - we never had a real conflict - we were always just completely friends." In 1985 they adopted the name "Indigo Girls"; Amy picked the word "indigo" out of the dictionary because she thought it sounded "cool". They released an independently
released 7" single "Crazy Game"/"Everybody's Waiting (For Someone to Come Home)" and a mostly-live cassette called "Blue Food" in 1984. At around
the same time, Amy released an updated version of "Color Me Grey", including an early version of her song "Nashville".
In 1986, Indigo Girls released a self-titled six-track EP which was produced by Frank French and engineered by Kristen Hall. Local Atlanta musicians who contributed to the record included Dede Vogt, Michelle Malone, and Caroline Aiken. At around this time, Amy and Emily met their future manager Russell Carter, who told them that he didn't see Indigo Girls getting a record deal because their songs were "immature". Nevertheless, the next year Amy and Emily went on to independently record their first full length album "Strange Fire" and took Russell on as manager soon after.
Indigo Girls were signed to Epic Records in 1988. "Indigo Girls", their first major-label album, was released in February 1989. Guest artists on the album included REM, Hothouse Flowers and Luka Bloom.
"Closer to Fine", the first single, peaked at #52 on the Billboard chart. The album reached as high as #22, remained in the chart for 35 weeks, and was certified gold in September 1989. "Strange Fire" was re-released by Epic in November 1989 with a rearranged track
listing. An early version of "Blood and Fire" and Emily's "High Horse" were dropped and the two songs were replaced by a cover of The Youngbloods' "Get Together". Also that year, "Indigo Girls" won a Grammy Award in the category "Best Contemporary Folk Recording". The duo was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best New
"Live at the Uptown Lounge", a concert/interview video filmed in Athens, Georgia, was released in January 1990. "Nomads*Indians*Saints", Indigo Girls' second Epic album, was released that September. The album featured guest appearances by Mary Chapin Carpenter, bassist Sara Lee and The Ellen James Society, an Atlanta rock band. The first single from the album, "Hammer and a Nail", was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Contemporary Folk Recording". During 1990, Amy also started her own
independent record label, Daemon Records.
"Back on the Bus, Y'all", an eight-song EP recorded live in concert at Notre Dame University, West Georgia College and the Uptown Lounge, was released in June 1991 and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Contemporary Folk Album". In December 1991, "Nomads*Indians*Saints" was certified gold and "Indigo Girls" was certified platinum, almost three years after its release.
"Rites of Passage" was released in May 1992. The album debuted at #22 on the Billboard album chart. That September it was certified gold after spending twelve weeks on the chart. Among the guest artists on "Rites of Passage" were Jackson Browne, David Crosby,
drummer Jerry Marotta and the Roche sisters.
Amy and Emily went into the studio in November 1993 to begin recording "Swamp Ophelia". In January 1994, the soundtrack to the movie "Philadelphia" was released, including Indigo Girls' cover of Danny Whitten's "I Don't Wanna Talk About It". In March Indigo Girls began filming for the movie "Boys on the Side" which starred Whoopi
Goldberg, Mary Louise Parker and Drew Barrymore. "Swamp Ophelia", which featured appearances by Jane Siberry, cellist Jane Scarpantoni
and Amy's father Larry Ray, was released in May 1994. It debuted at #9 on the Billboard album chart and six weeks later, in June, was certified gold. Later that year, "Swamp Ophelia" was also nominated for a Grammy Award in the category "Best Contemporary Folk Recording". Amy and Emily also took part that year in an Atlanta-based revival of Andrew Lloyd Webber's musical "Jesus Christ
Superstar" with Emily playing Mary Magdalene and Amy taking the part of Jesus.
The "best of" album "4.5" was released outside the US in July 1995. In October of that year the live album "1200 Curfews" was released. The album featured choice performances selected from concert tapes by
Amy and Emily themselves and some rarer material such as "Back Together Again" from the early B-Band tape. The video compilation "Watershed" was released at the same time. "Watershed" contained all the song videos which had been made up to that point plus additional exclusive concert, interview and home video footage.
After a break of roughly a year during which Indigo Girls made only a few live appearances, Amy and Emily went back on the road for three weeks in August 1996 to "road test" a batch of new songs. In September 1996, Indigo Girls went into the studio to begin recording their next album. Also during September, "Swamp Ophelia" was
certified platinum. Around November 1996, both "Strange Fire" and "1200 Curfews" were certified gold.
"Shaming of the Sun", Indigo Girls' sixth studio album, was released on April 29, 1997 and debuted at #7 on the US album chart, selling 78,000 copies via Soundscan in its first week of release. Guest artists on the album included Jerry Marotta, Sara Lee, Native American group Ulali and members of Atlanta bands Smoke and The
Rock*A*Teens. Also around April, "Indigo Girls" was certified double-platinum.
In May 1997, Amy and Emily began touring to support "Shaming of the Sun". After a band tour and a month with Lilith Fair in August 1997,
Indigo Girls toured for a month to support the Honor the Earth Foundation. This was followed by a short theatre tour ending just before Christmas 1997.
In 1999, VH1 ranked the Indigo Girls #79 on their list of the 100 Greatest Women of Rock and Roll, and in September they released Come On Now Social. The most recent release as of 2001 was Retrospective, which peaked at #128 on the Billboard charts, and was a greatest hits type album. They are recording a new album in the summer of 2001, which should hit stores in Spring of 2002.
"Our shows are not a blur to me. We try to be conscious every time we play, to really be there. We're not the kind of band that goes through the motions of a performance." -Amy Ray
The Indigo Girls tour regularly and often find novel ways to reach out to their fans. In 1993, they undertook a "Ten-Dollar Tour" of small clubs, with all tickets and tee shirts priced at ten bucks. In 1995 and again in 1997, Amy and Emily embarked on a series of benefit concerts called the "Honor the Earth Tour". Organized on behalf of Indigenous environmental activists, the tour included visits and performances on tribal reservations from Arizona to Alaska. In 1998, Amy and Emily initiated the "Suffragette Sessions Tour" - a loose, left-field amalgamation of female artists that Amy described as "a socialist experiment in rock and roll... no hierarchy, no boundaries." The participants included Gail Ann Doresey, Lisa Germano, Lourdes Perez, Kate Schellenbach, Jane Siberry, Jean Smith, Josephine Wiggs and Thalia Zedek. The duo has also continued their association with the Lilith Fair, participating in the tour for three consecutive years.
The Indigo Girls are musically prolific. Along with their beautiful harmonies, practiced voices, and thoughtful lyrics, Amy plays acoustic, 12-string, electric and slide guitars, mandolin, banjo, piano, melodica, ukelele, and bouzouki, and Emily plays acoustic, classical, electric, 12-string and slide guitars, banjo, dobro, dulcimer, bass guitar, bouzouki, piano, keyboards, hurdy gurdy, and harmonium. Amy has been influenced by artists such as The Replacements, Husker Du and Neil Young; Emily has stated that her biggest songwriting influence was Joni Mitchell and that her literary inspirations
include the writings of Virginia Woolf. Both Amy and Emily have said they have been influenced by Bob Dylan and also profess admiration for Jane Siberry and Ferron. In addition, they both enjoy reading the works of William Faulkner.
Also under the title of Indigo Girls is their debut release with Epic records, so here is the track listing:
- Closer to Fine
- Secure Yourself
- Kid Fears
- Prince of Darkness
- Blood And Fire
- Tried To Be True
- Love's Recovery
- Land of Canaan
- Center Stage
- History of Us