Closer To Fine
“I remind myself that we’ve been together for such a long time and that we’re lucky to still be together” Amy Ray
An American folk rock duo founded in 1985 by Amy Ray (vocals, guitar, mandolin and harmonica) and Emily Salier (vocals, guitar, mandolin and ukulele), Indigo Girls rose to fame with the release of their 1989 eponymous album debut on Epic Records, which won them a Grammy Award, in addition to earning a Grammy nomination. The platinum album produced their first hit, the classic “Closer To Fine.” The legendary group has since enjoyed a lucrative, long-running career with such records as Rites of Passage (1992), Swamp Ophelia (1994), 1200 Curfews (1995), Shaming of the Sun (1997), Become You (2002) and All That We Let In (2004). Under their new label Hollywood Records, Indigo Girls released a new album, Despite Our Differences, on September 2006. On Despite Our Differences, Saliers says, “This is my favorite record we’ve ever made. Making a record like this after all this time really bodes well for our future.”
Outside the Indigo Girls, Amy Ray is the owner of Daemon Records, which was founded in 1990 and has signed many artists like James Hall, Ellen James Society, Rose Polenzani, Girlyman, Nineteen Forty-Five and Kristen Hall, to name a few. Under the label, she has launched three solo projects: Stag, Prom, and Live From Knoxville. The other girl, Emily Saliers, is a successful entrepreneur. She co-founded Watershed Restaurant in Decatur, Georgia, along with her life partner and two of their friends. Additionally, she is the co-owner of the Flying Biscuit Cafe in Atlanta, Georgia. With her theology professor father, she released a book, A Song To Sing, A Life To Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice, in 2005.
Privately speaking, both Ray and Saliers have openly disclosed that they are lesbians, and have actively spoken out on the related issues, among other subjects including the environment, the death penalty and Native American rights. The two have never been a couple. Ray has been romantically involved with musician Cooper Seay and feminist author Jennifer Baumgardner. She is now in a relationship with documentary moviemaker Carrie Schrader. Saliers has had a long-term romance with Leslie Zweben.
Saliers and Ray
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of a theology professor, Emily Saliers was born on July 22, 1963 in New Haven, Connecticut, while Amy Ray was born on April 12, 1964, in Atlanta Georgia. They met when Emily’s family relocated to Decatur, Georgia. The girls were schoolmate at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia, just outside of Decatur, Georgia. They started performing together as the B-Band and Saliers and Ray when they were students at Shamrock High School. After graduating, Emily enrolled in Tulane University and, a year later, Amy began at Vanderbilt University. Both later returned to Georgia and transferred to Emory University in Atlanta. The two rejoined and in 1985, formed a new group called the Indigo Girls.
Despite Our Differences
Indigo Girls released a seven-inch single, “Crazy Game,” in 1985 with the b-side “Everybody’s Waiting For Someone to Come Home.” During that same period, they also publicized a six-track self-titled EP, and independently released a first full-length album called Strange Fire in 1987. Recorded at John Keane Studio in Athens, Georgia, the album, which included “Crazy Game,” won the group a manager, and they signed a deal with Epic Records in the following year.
In 1989, the duo performers had their first taste of prominence with their first, major-label album, Indigo Girls. Thanks to the classic hit “Closer To Fine” (#52 on the US Hot 10), it reached No. 22 on the album charts and stayed at No. 48 on the mainstream rock Album-oriented rock chart for a week. Indigo Girls finally earned platinum status, and in 1990, they took home a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Recording and were nominated for Best New Artist. The success subsequently put Indigo Girls on the map.
Their next effort, Nomads Indians Saints, was released in 1990, and went to earn gold certification in the late 1991. It spawned the hit single “Hammer and Nail,” which was a No. 12 modern rock track. They followed it up by releasing the live Back on the Bus, Y’all in 1991 and the highly successful Rites of Passage in 1992, producing their first Top 10 modern rock track,” Galileo.” Swamp Ophelia, released in 1994, scorched through the charts, landing at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 album chart, while the single “Least Complicated” reached No. 28 at the US Modern Rock Chart. It went platinum in September 1996.
1995 saw Indigo Girls launch a live double album, 1200 Curfews. They collaborated with their culture-hero, Ferron, on the rack “Stand Up” on Ferron’s CD Phantom Center and Saliers was featured on her album Still Riot. The group returned to their studio for a new album, Shaming of the Sun, which was released in 1997 and straightly reached No. 7 on the Billboard charts, thanks to their high-profile participation in the Lilith Fair music festival tour. The single “Shame On You” gained more airplay at adult alternative, top 40 & adult top 40 radio stations than any of their preceding singles. The group ended up the decade by releasing Come On Now Social.
Kicking off the new millennium, Indigo Girls collected their previous tracks and recorded two new tracks for the 200 compilation album, Retrospective. A full album of new songs, Become You, hit the music stores two years later, which was released to much critical praise and became a fan darling. 2004 saw the release of All That We Let In, and they went tour in support of the album. All That We Let In marked the group’s last Epic studio album. After Rarities (2005), a compilation of b-sides and rare songs partly decided by the input of their fans, Indigo Girls officially ended their long-running professional partnership with Epic Records.
In 2006, Indigo Girls found a new home at Hollywood Records, which signed them in a five record contract. Despite Our Differences, their first release for the company, broke into the music stores on September 19, 2006, featuring a guest appearance by tense pop singer Pink. The girls are now touring to promote their new album. About Despite Our Differences, Thom Jurekof from All Music Guide wrote: “part of an emotional journey as complete as can be. More relevant than anyone dared expect. It’s accessible and moving and true. It’s their own brand of rock & roll, hewn from over the years, that bears a signature that is now indelible. A moving, and utterly poetic offering.”
Aside from music, the Indigo Girls have sporadically delivered their acting performances. In 1994, they appeared onstage in the revival of Jesus Christ Superstar in Atlanta, titled “Jesus Christ Superstar: A Resurrection,” in which Ray portrayed the title role and Saliers portrayed the role of Mary Magdalene. They later reprised the roles in productions of the musical in Austin at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival and in Seattle. Ray and Saliers also made cameos in the Whoopi Goldberg vehicle Boys on the Side (1995), and more recently, appeared on the documentary Wordplay (2006).