Melissa Etheridge: ‘I’m in a good place’

Bradenton Herald – Grammy award-winning rocker Melissa Etheridge is bringing “Fearless Love” to Tampa Bay.

The July 28 concert, at the Straz Center for the Performing Arts, will feature the singer-songwriter’s trademark raspy voice, lyrical rock ’n’ roll and her heart. Because when it comes to performing, Etheridge loves giving fans her all.

“It is my favorite thing that I do,” the 49-year-old artist said of touring, especially with this year’s summer tour. “The audiences are just more intense than they have ever been. They’re just really digging it.”

Fans have adored the music of Etheridge for roughly 20 years, embracing hits such as “Bring Me Some Water,” “Come to My Window” and “Breathe.” The music has propelled Etheridge to success. But lately, it has been her separation from her partner of nine years, Tammy Lynn Michaels, that keeps her in the headlines. Etheridge recognizes that the recent attention is just part of being a celebrity. Despite that, though, Etheridge is pressing on with a smile and a rock song in her heart — for her fans.

“I’m looking forward to getting down to Tampa and rocking ’n’ rolling,” she said.

The Herald caught up with Etheridge during a tour stop in Atlantic City, N.J., last week, just hours before her performance. She talked about life, a new musical she’s working on and her headline-making split from Michaels.

What inspired you to write “Fearless Love?”

Life is what inspires me. I had a pretty specific idea in mind in what I wanted the album to sound like and what I wanted the album to be about. I wanted it to sound and have the musical intensity of my favorite albums from the 1970s — the great rock ’n’ roll era. I wanted it to just be huge like that. I wanted the songs to be about love, and the choices we make between the two.

How does this album stand out in your eyes from the others you have done?

I just hope I’m better — wiser.

You just turned 49 a few months ago. Looking back over your life, are you happy with how things have played out so far, considering?

Yes, I am incredibly happy where I am, despite everything. It’s all up and down, but it’s all life. It’s all learning. I feel like I’ve kept moving along in a direction of learning.

What’s the greatest life lesson that you’ve learned so far?

It would have to be that only you are going to make yourself happy. You can’t make anybody else happy and they can’t make you happy. Ultimately, your deep down happiness, your life’s work, comes from you.

With that in mind, do you have any big goals for the future?

I would just love to keep creating music and I hope to write a musical. A nice Broadway musical. I’m working with someone right now. They are writing the book and I’m writing the music. We’re looking for it to be your classic musical with a contemporary approach.

Would the theme be love and fear?

I’m not prepared yet to say exactly what the theme will be. But everything (in life) is love and fear (laughs).

What made you want to do something like this?

Because I’ve always had a love of Broadway, of musicals. Barbra Streisand was as much of an influence as Bruce Springsteen was to me. It’s just I’ve been able to show my Bruce side more.

Speaking of goals, do you have a bucket list prepared of things you’d want to do before you . . .

Before I croak? Well, having faced my mortality (Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004) a few years ago, I decided that instead of having a bucket list, I would like to live in my bucket. So if there’s anything I want to do, I go do it. My bucket list is day to day.

How are you handling things right now with your split from Tammy?

It’s keeping my head down. It’s so weird going through private stuff in public. . . . It’s hard. There’s miscommunications. There’s sadness and pain.

How are you able to keep your head up for the fans and do shows?

Because that’s a small part of who I am. It doesn’t crush me. I’m sad about it, but I made the right choice for me, which was to move on in my life. So I’m in a good place.

Do you think you’ll ever find that true happiness in a relationship?

I think I have found that true happiness inside myself.

In that way I can now have a good relationship because I’m not in a relationship thinking the other person is supposed to make me happy because it doesn’t work that way.

Do you think you’ll ever patch things up with Tammy?

Sure, because we share parenting of children. So she’s going to be in my life.

published July 22, 2010


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