February 22, 2018 at 8:51 pm PST | by Susan Hornik
EXCLUSIVE: Melissa Etheridge says women ‘a force’ in music biz

Live in LA with Melissa Etheridge. “I’m at the saturation point now of all of those things, all these mass shootings,” she told Rolling Stone after Pulse Nightclub. (Photo by Debi Del Grande)

Grammy and Academy Award-winning artist Melissa Etheridge is one busy woman. Involved with activism, numerous charities and a new medicinal cannabis products company, the lesbian musician is also working on her 17th album.

“I toured last year and it was fabulous. I will be going back this summer, heading to Australia with Sheryl Crow. We will have some fun! But right now, I am writing and recording,” Etheridge told the Los Angeles Blade in an exclusive interview.

“I am working with Concord Records again, they were the ones who did my rock and soul album. I really enjoyed working with the company. They are giving me full creative freedom.”

Just last month, Etheridge received the Icon award at the sixth annual She Rocks Awards, hosted by the Women’s International Music Network (the WiMN). During her acceptance speech at the gala celebration, Etheridge talked about how things have changed for female musicians.

“People are asking a lot of questions about women these days. They come up and say, ‘Did you guys ever have any trouble in rock ‘n’ roll?’ There wasn’t enough of us to have trouble.”

She talked about visiting radio stations in the ‘80s and hearing the programmers say ‘Sorry, but we’re already playing a woman, we can’t play you.’” But that didn’t stop her from kicking doors down.

“Even though it has been next to impossible being a woman in the music business,” said Etheridge, “we have succeeded and we have infiltrated every aspect of the music industry.

“We play the guitars and we rock; we play the drums and we rock; we work at the record companies and we rock; we discover the artists and we rock. We are a force to be reckoned with!”

While Etheridge is a mom of four in her 50s, she still has a passionate vibrancy.

Melissa wrote the above song after the shooting at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

“What keeps me young is my music, my attitude and my desire to create and just keep practicing. That’s life, that keeps me young.”

Looking back at the breakout moment in her career, the veteran musician remembers being out to her friends, family and the people she worked with, but not to the public.

“At that time, it was a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell,’ kind of thing in popular music. No one really wanted to know if I was gay. That changed in the mid ‘90s, then I let everyone know.”

Etheridge is passionate about cannabis being available to people with cancer, cancer survivors and veterans who are in need.

“I am very deeply involved in the medicinal cannabis world. It’s a lot of political work, in bringing education, information and understanding to people.

“That we don’t allow every single veteran in our great country to feel the release of medicinal cannabis is just criminal,” Etheridge added.

Etheridge is still on a high after performing with the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles during the Women’s March last month.

Oscar-nominated actress Allison Janney introduced Etheridge before her performance. “She has consistently used her music and her voice to fight for what matters. She has never backed down from a challenge,” describing her as a person she greatly admired.

About the experience, Etheridge said: “It was so inspirational. It was a reminder of last year, when we were all falling down the hole of ‘wait a minute, I thought we were living in a different world.’”

She continued: “This year, was not so much a reaction, but a call to action. I believe that this movement has gained steam and organization. The balance that has been long overdue is coming and is here in our world.”

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