Melissa Etheridge is in Australia to belt out her hits and maybe to help change our laws, writes Jonathon Moran
Happy to keep playing the hits.
OUT- and- proud US singer Melissa Etheridge would love an audience with Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
Etheridge, 50, will tour Australia in July next year – her first trip here in 13 years – and says it would be ‘‘ funny’’ to meet Ms Gillard to discuss the Federal Government’s failure to approve gay marriage.
The Bring Me Some Water singer married her female partner in the US in 2003. Although the pair has since split, Etheridge is a firm believer in the gay community having the same rights as everyone else. Gillard has publicly stated she is opposed to gay marriage but is facing pressure from her ministry to allow a conscience vote on the issue. ‘‘ It’s not so much the I want to get married, as I want to get divorced,’’ Etheridge said, having split from wife Tammy Lynn Michaels in April last year.
‘‘ It’s kind of ridiculous that we are completely contributing citizens and, in this day and age, we all understand that this notion of right or wrong or sinful really has no place in our civil rights for people.
‘‘ So I think it is good for any nation, any country, to embrace all of its people and all of the inalienable rights in all of us because the only way we are going to find any peace in our world is if we embrace all the differences.’’
Etheridge will play the Sydney Opera House on July 11 next year, and will be travelling with her new partner, TV writer Linda Wallem.
With her greatest hits album – The Road Less Travelled – out now, she promises to perform all of her biggest hits.
Big- name artists often refuse to play their hits in favour of whatever new material they have at the time. Not Etheridge.
‘‘ I’ve been working on the perfect set list,’’ she said. ‘‘ Since I haven’t been there in so long, I will be playing probably a long show.
‘‘ I am going to be playing a few songs from the last 10 albums, the hits, the ones I love, the old songs.
‘‘ It’s kind of what I’ve been doing lately, my career has become more of a long step than what’s the latest album and what’s the latest songs on that album.
‘‘ I wrote those songs so I could play them in bars 20 years from now and have fun with it.’’
Etheridge was at her most famous in the early to mid ’ 90s with Grammy Award- winning hits such as Come To My Window and Ain’t It Heavy.
Since releasing her self- titled debut album in 1988, she’s released a further nine albums and sold 30 million copies worldwide and was recently honoured with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
‘‘ I’m more confident than I’ve ever been as a performer,’’ Etheridge, a fan of Australian artist Gotye, said.
‘‘ I’ve learnt some things over the past 20 years. I’ve learnt that a lot of people can make records and you can have songs on the radio but the thing that lasts and stays around is a live performance.
‘‘ People will pay money for a ticket to go and see a live performance and that’s what I want to do and be known for. You gotta be the real deal nowadays.
‘‘ The thing is, I love what I do. I’ve done this so long. I’ve had this dream of doing just what I’m doing and I love it and there’s nothing like it.’’
Over recent years, Etheridge has slowed things down a little.
In 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer but is now in remission. The mother- of- four is clear on her top priorities – family, health and music.
‘‘ It’s been seven years cancerfree. That whole thing completely changed my life. It changed my outlook on life, which, of course changed my music, or changed how I held my music and how I feel about it,’’ she said.
‘‘ Music is a celebration for me now so I am grateful, it’s all about health for me now.’’