Come to My Window
“The songs are inspired by my experiences. Sometimes they are more than my real life and conversely, my life is more than just my songs.” Melissa Etheridge
American female rock star and songwriter Melissa Etheridge attained stardom at age 32 with her album “Yes I Am” (1993), which went multi-platinum and spawned the Grammy winning song “Come to My Window” and two Top 10 hits, “I'm the Only One” and “If I Wanted To.” Starting out writing songs for A&M Records in the early 1980s, she first came to the attention of the public with her eponymous debut album in 1988, which in addition to going double platinum, produced the Grammy nominee “Bring Me Some Water” and her first hit on the Billboard Hot 100, “Similar Features.” The follow-up albums “Brave and Crazy” (1989) and “Never Enough” (1992) both received platinum status and the latter brought the accomplished performer her first Grammy Award for the song “Ain't It Heavy.”
After “Yes I Am,” Etheridge's career gradually declined. Apart from the double platinum “Your Little Secret” (1995), her work was often ignored by music listeners. However, in 2007, she became the center of attention thanks to “I Need to Wake Up,” a theme song for the documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” which won her an Academy Award.
“A New Thought For Christmas” was released in September 2008. It is her new album after 2007's “The Awakening,” 2004's “Lucky” and 2001's “Skin.”
Etheridge is an environmental and gay rights activist. Known for becoming the first openly gay female rocker, she and her actress girlfriend Tammy Lynn Michaels exchanged wedding vows in a private ceremony in September 2003 and regard themselves as married. On October 17, 2006, her partner gave birth to twins, a girl named Johnnie Rose, and a boy named Miller Steven. Previously, Etheridge had a relationship with independent filmmaker Julie Cypher, who left her then-husband, Lou Diamond Phillips, to be with her. During this relationship, Cypher gave birth to two children, Bailey Jean (born on February, 10, 1997), and Beckett (born on November 1998), via artificial insemination. It is believed that their biological father is David Crosby. Etheridge and Cypher split up on September 19, 2000. Etheridge detailed the experience in her best-selling memoir “The Truth Is... My Life in Love and Music” (2001).
Childhood and Family:
Melissa Lou Etheridge was born on May 29, 1961, in Leavenworth, Kansas. She was educated at Leavenworth High School and after graduation in 1979, she was accepted into the prestigious Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. She, however, dropped out after only a year to chase a career in music. Melissa began playing the guitar at age 8 and added songwriting to her endeavors by the time she was 10 years old.
In 1992, Melissa, nicknamed Lucky and Miss Lou, lost her father, John, to cancer. Twelve years later, in October 2004, she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She has been a survivor since late 2005. Melissa has a sister named Jennifer, who is now alienated from her.
Melissa officially adopted Bailey Jean and Beckett, who were both mothered by ex-lover Julie Cypher. She and current partner Tammy Lynn Michaels have young twins, Johnnie Rose and Miller Steven.
“The love and support of someone like that is worth all the money in the world.” Melissa Etheridge
I Need to Wake Up
“I grew up thinking you could do anything, and be anything, because that was the American dream. But, because I'm gay I'm denied that.” Melissa Etheridge
Musically talented Melissa Etheridge joined her first band at age 12 and went on to perform with various local groups until she left her home in Leavenworth, Kansas, for Boston's Berklee College of Music in 1979. Already a veteran stage performer, she soon quit but decided to remain in Boston to work on her songwriting and performance skills. She played local bars and nightclubs until 1982 when she headed to Los Angeles.
As a struggling musician, Etheridge had some small engagements on the California bar circuit. An early break came when she was recruited by A&M Records as a songwriter in 1984 and for the next two years, a number of her songs were recorded by mainstream artists. It was not until 1986 that Etheridge had the opportunity to become a recording artist. Spotted by Island Records founder Chris Blackwell while she was performing in a Long Beach bar, the gifted singer was immediately signed to the label and her self-titled debut album was released on May 2, 1988.
In addition to the United States, where it rose to No. 22 on the Billboard 200, the album “Melissa Etheridge” burned up the album charts in such countries as the Netherlands (#9), Australia (#3), Austria (#16) and Germany. The album finally went double platinum. The first single, “Bring Me Some Water,” was a Top 10 hit on the Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart although it did not chart on Billboard's Hot 100. It received significant popularity in Canada and Australia. The song brought the singer a Grammy nomination for Best Female Rock Vocal. The second single, “Like the Way I Do,” was a minor hit on the U.S. Mainstream Rock Tracks Chart, but in 1992 became a Top 2 hit on the Dutch Single charts. Etheridge had her first entry to Billboard's Hot 100 with the single “Similar Features,” which rose to No. 94.
The sophomore effort, “Brave and Crazy,” hit the music stores on September 11, 1989. Like its predecessor, the album was also a hit on the Billboard 200 and became a Top 10 hit in Germany, Australia and Switzerland. Spawning such hits as “Let Me Go” (#13) and “No Souvenirs” (#9), “Brave and Crazy” earned platinum certification and brought Etheridge three Grammy nominations and a 1990 Juno for International Entertainer of the Year.
Etheridge resurfaced on March 9, 1992, with the release of her third studio album, “Never Enough.” The album went platinum and eventually won the rocker her first Grammy in the category of Best Female Rock Performance for the single “Ain't It Heavy,” which peaked at No. 10 on Billboard's Mainstream Rock Tracks chart. The next single, “Dance without Sleeping,” entered the Adult Contemporary chart at No. 24.
Meanwhile, outside music, Etheridge became growingly vocal on political and social topics. She openly backed Bill Clinton during his presidential campaign in 1992. The following year at Clinton's inaugural ball, she shocked the public with her announcement about her sexual orientation. After publicly coming out of the closet, Etheridge gained even more popularity and recognition thanks to her forth album, “Yes I Am.” Released on September 1, 1993, the album marks her biggest hit to date by going 6 times platinum. The first single, “Come to My Window,” earned heavy airplay on radio stations and debuted at No. 25 on the Billboard Hot 100. The song also won Etheridge her second Grammy for Best Female Rock Vocal. The follow-ups, “I'm the Only One,” peaked at No. 8 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 while “If I Wanted To” hit No. 10 on the Top 40 Mainstream chart.
“Your Little Secret,” Etheridge's fifth studio album, was released on November 14, 1995. The album debuted at No. 6 on the Billboard 200, becoming her first record to achieve such an impressive position, and went double platinum. It contained three singles: “Your Little Secret” (#4 on the Mainstream Rock Tracks), “I Want to Come Over” (#22 on the Billboard Hot 100) and “Nowhere to Go” (# 40 on the Billboard Hot 100).
Etheridge was handed an ASCAP for Songwriter of the Year in 1996, but then decided to take a hiatus from music to start a family with partner Julie Cypher. After having two children, she made her return with the album “Breakdown.” Released on October 5, 1999, the album hit the Top 12 on the Billboard 200 and achieved gold status. Etheridge took another break after “Breakdown” and resurfaced in July 2001 with “Skin,” her first record since her break up with long-term lover Cypher in September 2000. “Skin” rose to No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and spawned the Top 20 hit on the Adult Top 40 with the single “"I Want to Be in Love.” In support of the album, she started “The Live... and Alone” tour in September 2001.
On February 10, 2004, Etheridge released the album “Lucky.” It rose to No. 15 on the Billboard 200 and spawned two minor hits with “Breathe” and “This Moment.” Three year later, she was put back in the limelight with her Academy Award winning song “I Need to Wake Up,” which was included in the Al Gore environmental documentary “An Inconvenient Truth” (2006). Etheridge wrote “I Need to Wake Up” for her ninth album, “The Awakening.” Released on September 25, 2007, the album entered the U.S. Billboard 200 chart at No. 13 and sold almost 48,000 pieces in the first week of release. The album “A New Thought For Christmas” followed on September 30, 2008.
In addition to her ten studio albums, Etheridge released a compilation album in 2005 called “Greatest Hits: The Road Less Traveled,” which went gold, and a live album, “Awakening live,” on March 29, 2008. She has also recorded the EPs “Melissa Etheridge Live” (1988), “5 Live Cuts” (1988) and “Live” (1990).
Oscar: Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song, “An Inconvenient Truth” (for the song “I Need To Wake Up”), 2007
GLAAD Media: Stephen F. Kolzak Award, 2006
Gibson Guitar: Best Rock Guitarist-Female, 2001
GLAAD Media: Stephen F. Kolzak Award, 1999
ASCAP: Songwriter of the Year, 1996
Grammy: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, “Come to My Window,” 1994
Grammy: Best Female Rock Vocal Performance, “Ain't It Heavy,” 1992
Juno: International Entertainer of the Year, 1990