Melissa Etheridge is not only a talented singer and songwriter; she is also a human rights and LGBT activist. During our exclusive interview with Melissa, we asked about her upcoming solo performance at Centre In The Square, her musical background and her other passions.
Q: FOR YOUR KITCHENER FANS WHO HAVE SEEN YOU PERFORM WITH A BAND AND WITH SPECIAL GUEST SERENA RYDER IN 2011, WHAT CAN EVERYONE EXPECT AT THIS SHOW?
A: It’s like getting your favourite cake made in a whole different way by a new chef. I’m going to play old favourites that we all love as well as songs from my newest album This Is M.E.
The performance is going to be intense because it’s so intimate – it’s just me on stage. Being on stage is a vulnerable place, if any mistakes are made it’s me, there’s nobody to look to. I create drum loops on stage, so there will be rhythm and we’re going to dance and have a good time. It’s just me on stage and I’m playing everything so you get a more instrumental experience of me and my guitar, there will be stories as well. It’s a very intimate way to experience your favourite songs.
Q: HOW DID THE EVOLUTION HAPPEN WHERE YOU LEARNED TO PLAY SO MANY INSTRUMENTS?
A: I started learning instruments pretty young. I remember in 3rd grade when you had music lessons in school I wanted to take drums but they said “no, girls don’t play drums” so I said, “okay I’ll play trumpet” and they said “no, girls don’t play trumpet”, so I played clarinet and then later I got a guitar. In junior high my boyfriend gave me a drum set, and in every band I would play in I would learn to play all the instruments. I would absorb it. When I stand up now in front of people I play piano, the rhythms on the hand drums and much more. I like showing people that I have a great love of music and have studied it all my life.
Q: IN ADDITION TO YOUR MUSIC CAREER, YOU ARE WIDELY KNOWN FOR YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH THE LGBT COMMUNITY. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO IS STRUGGLING WITH THEIR SEXUALITY?
A: You have been born in the most amazing time, when the whole world, and especially your country is at the leading edge of awakening to understanding that inside each and every person is a beautiful balance of male and female – whatever that might be. There’s nothing wrong with you and there never has been and the best thing you can do to change the world is to love and accept yourself in that place that you know is true and in doing so, you shine a light that changes the world.
Q: WITHIN YOUR HUMAN RIGHTS WORK, IS THERE A MOMENT THAT REALLY STICKS OUT TO YOU AS INFLUENTIAL?
A: The experience of walking in any town or city around the world and having someone come up to me and say “you saved my life”. That goes right to my heart and I have such gratitude towards that.
Join us at The Centre on September 21 for Melissa Etheridge’s This Is M.E. Solo performance where she will share personal stories about her remarkable journey through life and the inspiration behind some of her most beloved songs.