Melissa Etheridge, with her signature raspy voice, is arguably one of the more successful and multifaceted rock ‘n rollers out there.
She’s earned 15 Grammy Award nominations throughout her more than 25 year career, taking home two in 1993 and 1995, and earning an Academy Award in 2007 for her song “I Need to Wake Up” from the film “An Inconvenient Truth.”
Melissa Etheridge Chats about Music, Health, and Cannabis
The environmental, LGBT and medical marijuana advocate is now touring to promote her 12th album of original material titled “This is M.E.” and will make a stop at the Morongo Casino Resort and Spa on Nov. 7.
While concertgoers will be introduced to the soulful new album, Etheridge wants to assure longtime fans that she will “dig deep into old songs” and play those ditties that made her famous.
“I get to show off my guitar playing and you’ll hear your favorite song. I always love doing the favorites. There’s nothing like hearing the crowds holler,” she said.
The title of her new album is more than a double entendre. It is her first album under her independent label.
After being with Island Records for more than 25 years, she decided to venture out on her own after feeling like her career had stagnated. She also noticed a change in the music industry over the years.
“What it enabled me to do is be completely in charge of my album. I said ‘I want to work with people that are going to (create) great music with me, but that are so outside the box that people would say ‘whoa’ what is she doing.”
To help create her sound and album, Etheridge called on music industry greats such as Jerrod Bettis who has worked with Adele and Gavin DeGraw and Jon Levine who has worked with Nelly Furtado and Selena Gomez. She also collaborated with Jerry Wonda who has guided Mary J. Blige and Akon, and Roccstar who has helped with Usher and Chris Brown. Etheridge’s latest album has the rock and roll intensity she is known for, but also includes flavors of R & B and hip hop.
“I’ve always had a love of R & B and soul music. When I grew up in Kansas the one radio station played Tammy Wynette and Marvin Gaye,” she said. “To me it was all really great music.”
Her music label isn’t the only thing that she’s changed lately. Etheridge also changed her marital status when she wed her girlfriend Linda Wallem, co-creator of “Nurse Jackie” last year. Etheridge has been a famous proponent of gay rights since she publicly came out as a lesbian in 1993. She is also a proponent of cancer awareness after she was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and subsequently underwent surgery and chemotherapy. It was her bout with cancer that made her re-examine her health and well-being, take control of her nutrition and change how she approaches life.
“I’m happier and healthier than I’ve ever been,” she said.
Etheridge is also a proponent of medical marijuana. She began using it to handle the side-effects of chemotherapy during her fight with cancer and has launched a line of “wine tinctures” which is essentially marijuana infused wine.
“I was very interested in the cannabis movement. I invested in a dispensary in Santa Cruz and they were making this cannabis tincture,” Etheridge said.
She described it as a “wonderful alternative” to those who really don’t enjoy the euphoric high of cannabis and are instead looking for a full body relaxation. You don’t taste the cannabis, but it does have an herbal smell, she said.
“Wine makers have been making this on the side for years and years. It’s centuries old. The infusing wine with herbal things is not new, yet it’s new to this culture.”
If you go:
What: Melissa Etheridge: This is M.E. Solo
When: 9 p.m. Nov. 7.
Where: Morongo Casino Resort and Spa, 49500 Seminole Dr., Cabazon.
Cost: $48 and $59.
Info: (951) 849-3080 or morongocasinoresort.com