ORLANDO, Fla. – Melissa Etheridge is taking a trip down memory lane but unlike most of us, the rock musician’s nostalgic reverie has sparked more than memories. It led to her latest national tour.
The ‘80s and ‘90s rock icon — known for such radio hits as “Come to My Window” and “I’m the Only One” — is returning to that era with previously unreleased songs from her musical vault, making a tour stop at Orlando’s Dr. Phillips Center next month.
The idea was born out of the pandemic — when the only audience a musician could find was through social media — as Etheridge and her wife began holding Facebook Live concerts.
“It grew and grew and, um, it became a thing, a subscription-based performance called Etheridge TV and I would do three concerts of at least 45 minutes and then my wife and I would do a show,” Etheridge said. “I ended up performing every single song I’ve ever recorded, which is a lot. It really opened up some things that I hadn’t visited in years and I thought, ‘Why am I, sort of, leaving these out?’”
The sonic scraps of albums’ past were used to create “One Way Out,” her latest project released in September 2021. Etheridge jokes it’s a mix of the albums from last century and the albums from this century.
“I appreciate, you know, how I wrote back then and some of the words and the music and it was just nice to sort of revisit it without all the pain and anguish,” Etheridge said.
The pushback of rock ‘n’ roll and the difficulty of breaking into that mold as a woman when she was coming up as an artist has changed in recent years, she reflected.
“The whole idea of rock and roll is about individualism and nonconforming and strength and, you know, anarchy and all these things that aren’t often described when you’re thinking of feminine properties. So you know, putting those things together, it was hard back then ... but that doesn’t mean that I still didn’t love it and people seemed to respond to the music,” Etheridge said.
Among the feminist anthems and self-empowerment solos, Etheridge explores gay relationships in these select pieces released years later because she wasn’t ready to publicly come out at the time they were written.
“There’s a song called ‘Wild Wild Wild’ that I really liked and I think it’s a really beautiful piece ... but it’s just out and out about me having an affair with a married woman and I was like, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for that.’”
Etheridge has since etched her place in the world as an LGBTQ+ advocate, a journey which included penning a song about Pulse after the Orlando nightclub mass shooting back in 2016.
“Well, like everybody else that woke up on (that day), it was just a ... horrible thing to read ... I came out in nightclubs, they sustained me in my early years, they gave me employment. That whole community is very near and dear to my heart,” Etheridge said. “It’s that heartbreak ... that pain ... that empathy where you understand what others must’ve gone through ... And then you’re like, ‘Why is it that people hate this part of sexuality so much that they need to kill?’”
The message of hope and acceptance carries in her concerts to this day and is something fans can expect at her Dr. Phillips Center performance on May 1.
“What anybody else thinks about you is none of your business. You know, that’s what I’m hoping that the gay people in my audience can pick from that and then those of other persuasions ... they can enjoy the thought, too, that you can be whatever you are,” she said.
Etheridge says at her concerts, she plans to play a blend of the hits and the lesser-known songs.
“You’re either here because you ... lived it in the ‘90s with me or your parents played some really good music,” Etheridge said of the crowds she plays to. “There’s a whole generation of that, and oh, I just love it, and they’re learning and it just keeps going and I’m really grateful, really blessed with that.”
To purchase tickets for her Orlando concert, click here.