Who is Melissa Etheridge in her own words?
Etheridge: She’s a Midwestern girl, who had some big dreams who followed her dreams, and has found out that the realizing of her dreams was not the end goal. That’s what has made her life so rich is the journey to those dreams and so I continue dreaming the dreams and I continue on this journey. That’s very delicious and very rewarding.
You moved to New York City. I’d love to hear that your place has lots of windows and how our New York City views inspire you and if you might have a love song in the future about New York City?
Absolutely! This is an amazing experience. I do not have a high-rise apartment though, but we have a place with a little outdoor space. We are an upper Eastside family right now. We are on the upper Eastside because our youngest daughter is going to school here. I do have windows we just don’t have high-rise views. And man, just everything is available, right down the block, everything!
Might there be a love song in the future about New York City?
Oh, I think definitely! Being in New York and on Broadway just feels like a privilege and honor.
It was so moving and special seeing you sing “Gently We Row”with your daughter Bailey. I just recently lost my mom and remembered looking in her eyes and I am moved by your lyrics and song and the river of life. If you could leave behind three life lessons, what would they be?
I would say you never get it wrong, and you never get it done. You never get it wrong because you never get it done. Everyday is an opportunity to get up and write your story again.
And two, I would say your own happiness and joy is strength, it’s your responsibility and it’s your medicine. It’s what will make everything work out. If you put your joy and happiness first that’s what’s going to be the best for everyone in the world. Some of us get turned around on that and we think it’s selfishness, but it is very loving for each of us to take care of ourselves in that way.
And three, I would say to do more sit ups!
How would you describe loneliness and what gives you the strength to pen vulnerable lyrics?
Loneliness is a state of mind. I have not felt loneliness in a long, long time. I had four children. I have three now and my wife and our dog and a very full life. So I don’t feel loneliness, but I do remember being lonely, when I was in a place where I was not in touch with myself. I wasn’t loving myself. I wasn’t connected to myself. I was putting someone else’s desires and well being ahead of my own. I think once you connect with yourself you get past loneliness. I had loneliness in my early songs and I sang about it and you know I touched on it, but once I really started understanding that it is a state of mind and that I can change that state.
Your new memoir, “Talking to my Angels” is out now, and this reveals in a more detailed version of what is shared in your show. How has performing on Broadway and writing a memoir about your life, changed your life?
It’s been a lot of me in the last three years. You know when you really take the time to put it down and examine your life you actually get a choice of how you’re going to tell that story. Am I going to be a victim here? Or am I going to say hey this is what happened and these are the choices I made to move through it. I think it really gave me opportunities to put some things to rest, and just move through it.
After the devastating loss of your son Beckett, in May 2020 from opioid addiction you founded your incredible foundation. What does the Etheridge Foundation mean to you?
I am so grateful for this foundation because it makes me feel like I am contributing something that is moving hearts and minds forward. The foundation raises hundreds of thousands of dollars to fund research into different plant-based options to either deal with opioid addiction, or to replace opioids as a pain relief.
Melissa how does your voice, your writing, your performing and your sharing bring you peace and healing?
That’s always been a place where I have gone to in many stages of my life. It’s when just being that open channel to let music, thought and performance go through me to an audience, and then that energy comes back. That has always been incredibly healing for me.
Melissa, your off Broadway version of the show was co-written by you and your wife Linda Wallem-Etheridge, which received amazing reviews. Besides performing at such an intimate setting at the Circle in the Square Theatre how will the shows differ?
Well, we have streamlined it. It’s hard to tell your whole life story in two hours. We have gotten the technical part of it, the video, the lighting all state of the art. It’s just magnificent and the sound is unique and the story we have really cut it down. Circle in the Square Theatre is such a unique theater where the whole theater becomes the space and we have the opportunity to actually go out into the audience and use that space is very exciting. It moves a lot faster and so it is a bit shorter than the off-Broadway show.
How do you and Linda relax and balance your dynamic working relationship at home?
Oh my gosh, we don’t have any trouble with that. We relax and we watch a lot of football. We love our family and our kids. We love to cook and we have a dog we adore and walk and we just love being a family.
As a rockstar, a guitarist, Grammy award winning, author, mother, cancer survivor, and inspiration to all, how do you think growing up in the Midwest and Kansas shaped you?
It was everything! I was able to dream huge dreams because I grew up in Kansas. There was nothing in my hometown, but everything. It was unique there and I grew up with wonderful people. I grew up in the 60s and 70s with great music. I fell in love with Broadway musicals, all kinds of music, rock ‘n’ roll, and it was just a big part of my life and it enabled me to dream these huge dreams so I could go out and try to make them come true.
Melissa what do you want your audience to take away from your Broadway show?
I hope they leave feeling uplifted and maybe more hopeful about life in general. I hope that they are entertained and delighted and moved.