- - Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Melissa Etheridge is a mammoth talent armed with electrifying energy, a custom Les Paul guitar and a powerful, raspy voice that penetrates the soul. The Academy Award- and Grammy-winning artist will stop at Strathmore this month as part of an extensive tour encompassing solo and full band performances, festivals and several dates with Blondie and Joan Jett.

“The inspiration can come from a chord on the guitar, a memory or a glance out the window,” Miss Etheridge told The Washington Times about writing her 13th album, “This Is M.E.”

“Sometimes the song comes quickly, like ‘A Little Bit of Me,’ which I wrote during an airplane flight. ‘Who Are You Waiting For’ was the most difficult in the album, because I wrote it for my marriage. It came straight from my heart, and I wanted to get it perfect, so it took a few weeks.”

Miss Etheridge is proud of her numerous accolades, but none more so than the Academy Award for “I Need to Wake Up” from Al Gore’s 2006 documentary about global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth.”

“Winning that Oscar probably gave me the greatest pride,” she said. “I grew up in Kansas, where watching the Academy Awards was an important form of entertainment. The academy has lots of categories, but only one for music, so receiving it was a major honor.

“When I first heard about the film, I thought it might simply be a slide show in a high school and had no idea what impact it would have on our lives.”

Protection of the environment is just one cause Miss Etheridge supports. A cancer survivor, a user of medical marijuana and a gay rights activist, she gladly expresses her opinions about many political and social issues whenever asked.

“Just by saying that I am in favor of something, I automatically become an activist,” she said. “Overcoming cancer has given me even more enthusiasm for my life and work. I have a holistic belief in the symbiotic relationship between the body and its diet. The energy I have on stage is all about health. The whole foods I am eating and the lack of sugar in my body take away stress so that being on stage is a celebration.”

Just as the lyrics she writes reflect her beliefs and emotions, her actions reflect love for her late father and respect for her roots. A ballfield named for him in a park near her high school in Leavenworth, Kansas, where he taught, was built with money raised from a benefit concert she performed there.

She is especially pleased that her appearance last season on TV’s “Who Do You Think You Are?” unearthed genealogical information about her ancestors in Quebec and New France that she would have loved to share with her father.

Now that she has her own independent label, she is planning another recording to treat her fans. “The recording industry has changed and is becoming a renaissance for the artist,” she said. “My next album should be out in several months.”

IF YOU GO:

WHAT: Melissa Etheridge: This is M.E. solo concert

WHERE: Music Center at Strathmore, 10701 Rockville Pike, North Bethesda, Maryland, 20852

WHEN: Aug. 26 at 8 p.m., with a pre-show celebration including food and special drinks at 6:30 p.m.

INFO: Tickets $48 to $88 by calling 301/581-5100 or visiting Strathmore.org


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