Melissa Etheridge is in Aus­tralia to belt out her hits and maybe to help change our laws, writes Jonathon Mo­ran

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - Front Page - Melissa Etheridge will play at the Syd­ney Opera House on July 11, 2012. Tick­ets go on sale this week. Visit fron­tier­tour­ing. com

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.’’

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