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'Fearless' Melissa Etheridge talks Love, Equality and Broadway

'Fearless' Melissa Etheridge talks Love, Equality and Broadway

Melissa Etheridge has sung about love before, but now with "Fearless Love," her 10th studio album, Etheridge sings about what defines that love. Touching on equality and singing out about gay rights in the wake of the passage of Prop. 8 with tracks like "Miss California" and the album's title track. SheWired caught up with Etheridge to discuss the new album, her advice for Constance McMillen, who has been making waves as a lesbian in her Mississippi community, writing for Broadway and being a Dinah Shore virgin.

Melissa Etheridge has sung about love before, with such famed lesbian tracks as "Come To My Window" and "Bring Me Some Water." But now with Fearless Love, her 10th studio album, Etheridge sings about what defines that love.

Touching on equality and singing out about gay rights in the wake of the passage of Prop. 8 with tracks like "Miss California" and the album's title caught up with Etheridge to discuss the new album, her advice for Constance McMillan, writing for Broadway and being a Dinah Shore virgin.

SheWired: How much has married life taught you what a “fearless love” is?

Melissa Etheridge: Everything! Every relationship is helping you define yourself and that's definitely an important thing.


SheWired: How much of the album was inspired by the outpouring after Prop. 8 passed?


ME: Definitely "Miss California" is a direct response to being spurned by my lover, California. The whole album is about being fearless; it's about this is a step and we keep taking these steps one by one: politically, socially, spiritually.

SheWired: Your daughter named the album. What does that mean to you?

ME: Awww. My family is the most important thing to me in the whole, wide world. That my kids were even interested this time around — they usually are like, "What ever, mom." But they've been finding their own music and their own delight in popular music and they keep seeing, "Hey, you're actually in this world." And I'm like, "Yeah!" (Laughs.) So they were interested in what I was creating and it was very nice that I had this dialogue with her during the whole process of making this album.

SheWired: As a parent, what advice do you have for Constance in the wake of Prom-gate debacle?

ME: To just love herself and keep walking this path truthfully because that's the most brave thing one can do in the world: To just quietly be themselves. And that's what she's doing. It's that sort of peace inside herself, like, "Hey, I want to go to my prom with my girlfriend." It's such a beautiful truth that can shape the whole world. That's how change happens.

SheWired: There's been rumblings all over the Internet about organizing a Big Gay Prom for Constance. Would you attend or get involved should that come to pass?

ME: A Super Prom! I don't know it would depend on what it was.

SheWired: How did reuniting with Breakdown producer John Shanks influence the record?

ME: It was absolutely everything I wanted. His talent as a producer now is untouched; he's so at the top of his game. And he's been like my brother for 25 years; he was my first guitar player in my very first band. He and I have a great relationship and I knew he could understand my desire to really get back to the rock and roll roots of myself and my music. He certainly did all that and more.

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SheWired: Joss Stone and Natasha Beddingfield are guests on the album. Is there anyone else you'd like to collaborate with going forward?

ME: Anybody who wants to. I love playing this game with anybody who wants to be involved.

SheWired: What was working with Al Gore like?

ME: I'm so honored to be friends with people who make such differences in the world who really speak out about their beliefs. I'm just honored to be around that.

SheWired: You envisioned winning an Oscar and won. What’s your next career goal?

ME: Funny how that works! I envision an album that a lot of people in the world want to take into their life and make part of their musical tapestry.

SheWired: You’re halfway to the rare awards sweep: Oscar and multiple Grammy. Do you have any interest in a Tony or Emmy?

ME: I'm working on it! Sure, I'm constantly thinking about writing for Broadway and making a musical. I have a real desire and love for that, so of course. Awards, they're funny little things you keep in your office, but it means you've done something and you've achieved and had a goal and achieved that.

SheWired: If you were to write a Broadway musical, is there a specific subject that's of interest to you?

ME: Changing the world, that sort of thing. (Laughs.)

SheWired: There’s a big tour announcement coming later this month, what can you tell us in advance?

ME: My tour this year is going to be more worldwide than it has before.

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SheWired: Lilith Fair is coming back this summer; do you have any plans to get involved?

ME: It's funny, I didn't get involved the first time around and I haven't heard any invitations this time around, either.

SheWired: In terms of touring, is there any song you won’t perform from your library?

ME: There's a few that really just don't ring true to me at all but they're way far away. There's a song on my third album called "It's for You" that really, after I put that album out I thought, "I shouldn't have put that song out." It wasn't done; I just don't like the song. But hey, one out of what, 150? That's not so bad! (Laughs.)

SheWired: You’re also contributing to the History Channel’s America: The Story of Us. What can you tell me about your work there?

ME: They asked me, and I was honored to represent so many pieces of our history from gay life to health to green living to, gosh, any of that. I did the interview a few months ago so I don't quite remember all of what quite went down, but they asked some pretty cool questions. I think it might be a cool thing. 

SheWired: But there's definitely going to be some gay history included there?

ME: Oh yeah, they asked me some stuff.

SheWired: If you could go back in time 20 years, what three things would you do over?

ME: (Laughs.) I don't have regrets. I don't have things I want to change. That's a really difficult question because I go back and I look at my life and I'm at peace with it. I made my choices, I understand my choices. Maybe the only thing I would say is I would slow down a little. I'd say, enjoy what I'm doing in the moment because it's going to go by so fast.

SheWired: You were in Palm Springs during Dinah Shore weekend. Have you ever attended the big parties before? Is there anything you can share about your experience this year?

ME: I have not ever attended The Dinah before. I remember when I was first in Long Beach and everybody said, "Oh, Dinah Shore is coming!" And I said, "Well, I don't golf!" And they said, "Oh, Melissa, it has nothing to do with golf." (Laughs.) But I was always working and I just never made it out there. Now, I do these concerts and run back home. But some day I'll pour honey on myself and just lay by the pool and see what happens. (Laughs.)

SheWired: So you were there for a quick concert?

ME: It was my first one with my new band and playing these songs. It was the very, very first one and it was a wonderful experience.

Etheridge's Fearless Love is available April 27th in stores and on iTunes. Get more information about the new alubum and other news from Melissa on her site here!

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Lesley Goldberg