LIMA — Melissa Etheridge is famous for singing, songwriting and being outspoken on issues such as cannabis and gay rights. She is just as passionate about extending peace, love and joy to her audience during her performances.
She will be performing Tuesday at Veterans Memorial Civic Center in Lima.
“My whole purpose is for everyone who comes to that show, I want them to leave feeling better than when they got there. I want them to release stress, I want them to know it’s a safe haven for any sort of person of any type that wants to come there — men, women and everything in between — and it’s just about loving music and celebrating life. That’s what it’s about,” Etheridge said. “I’m looking forward to being there.”
Audience members can expect to hear their favorites at the show.
“I call it The Rock Show because it’s just rock and roll. I don’t have a new album yet. I’m not promoting an album. I’m just playing the hits that you know and love,” Etheridge, 57, said. “I have very, very wonderful fans. They’ve been with me now for 30 years, and it’s very intense.”
Etheridge, 57, grew up in Kansas. She credits her interest in music to her parents.
“It was the ‘60s. They didn’t play any instruments, but they had one of those old record players, and they liked The Mamas & the Papas, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles and Simon and Garfunkel, some really great music from the ‘60s. I grew up with that, and we also had a great radio station, and I started having some crazy dream that maybe I could sing and do that too,” Etheridge said.
Her dreams of being a singer and songwriter were supported by her parents and those close to her.
She started writing songs when she was 11 or 12 years old.
“I kept writing and wanted to be better, and I studied other writers and poets and you keep doing it. It’s very satisfying for me,” Etheridge said.
Etheridge found the first song she wrote when she was young, “Don’t Let It Fly Away, It’s Love.” Although the song was never recorded, it still holds a special place in her office.
“I actually found the piece of paper that I wrote it on. I have that in my office,” Etheridge said. “It’s crazy, I put it between glass and everything. I think as a child I thought this is the first song I ever wrote, I should keep it in case I ever become famous. You know those dreams you have.”
Even though she has achieved success, Etheridge continues to set goals.
“It’s a funny place because I have succeeded and achieved so many of my original goals. The key is to put other goals in front of you and enjoy what I’m doing and yet be creative every day,” she said. “I have a new album that will be out probably January or February right around then. We haven’t started pushing it yet, because we’re doing the 25th anniversary of ‘Yes I Am’ so that’s coming out, I’ve been doing that.
”I’m trying to stay relevant as a writer and to just do my job and then to get better as a performer. Like I play guitar a lot more than I have ever, and if you haven’t seen me or haven’t seen me in the last 10 years, you’d be surprised at how much guitar I play. So I’m just constantly growing. That’s sort of how I measure my success right now. I just keep going.”
Keeping going could be her mantra. She has four children; that keeps her grounded. She is a breast cancer survivor. Her songwriting has evolved and changed with every milestone, good or bad, that she faced.
“For most songwriters, you take what you know, your experience, and you put it down, you write it,” Etheridge said.
Her health scare is especially poignant, and Etheridge believes being happy is key.
“If you don’t have your health, you’ve got nothing. Stress is the No. 1 killer; stress is in every degenerative disease, every single one,” Etheridge said.
She holds tightly to the two things that she loves most, her family and her work.
“Those are the two things that bring me so much joy, and there’s not room for much else. If I’m working, I want to show my children that I love my work, that the only thing that would ever take me away from them is what I love to do, and I hope that they find that sort of joy in their life,” Etheridge said. “Then, when I’m with my kids and family, I don’t stress that I’m not No. 1 or not at the Billboard whatever. It’s about balance.”
Etheridge’s dreams become reality when she’s playing a song and the audience is applauding and singing along.
“That’s the ultimate, that’s the dream. When I start ‘Come To My Window’ and the audience is going crazy, that makes me so happy that I’m a part of their life. That is something that we share is this song, and it means so much to them that they get so excited when I play it,” Etheridge said. “I wish everyone could have an audience applaud them at their work. It would be awesome.”
While she has many to choose from, Etheridge finds it difficult to name a favorite song.
“It’s usually the last song I wrote,” she laughed.
With 30 years of singing and songwriting behind her, Etheridge is still producing new music.
“This new album that is coming out is a real look outward,” she said. “Of course, these are very inspiring times, and it’s about our human experience, and then there’s some deep songs about love and relationships, long-term relationships, those are whole different songs, a whole different side of love, and it’s just my job, my joy to reflect what I’m going through. That’s what the new album is about.”
Reach Merri Hanjora at 567-242-0511