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INTERVIEW: Melissa Etheridge On Her New Album, Making It In The Music Industry, The Need For Women Composers In Film, And Her Favorite Hamptons Spot

Nicole Barylski

Melissa Etheridge is performing at WHBPAC over 4th of July weekend. (Courtesy Photo)

Iconic rock star Melissa Etheridge will be taking the stage at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center (WHBPAC) for This is M.E. Solo on Sunday, July 3rd at 10 p.m. We caught up with the songstress who told us, "I'm just looking forward to getting out there."

You were quoted saying, "I haven't been this excited about making music and creating in ages" about This is M.E. After nearly 30 years in the business, what was it about that album that made you feel that way?

ME: Because I had a new sense of it being my own. There comes a point when you do what you love and when you do your business and you realize sometimes the business changes and the way that people get their music is different now. I could throw up my hands and go, 'Oh, that's it. It's over.' Or I could jump in and go, 'Okay, what's this new stream?' I did that and really, really enjoyed creating these songs and becoming a better musician. I just enjoy the path I'm on right now.

How did you go about adapting to the new system?

ME: You just say, 'Yes.' Find the gratitude and really go along with the process. You realize you're going to be working with some amazing people and music is a collaborative art, and the highest form is just wonderful.

Tell me a little bit about the title of the album.

ME: When I was working with the marketing company in my management firm, they said, 'What about This is M.E., your initials, M.E.?' I said, 'Well, I've always had fun with my initials.' To really brand that was fun to do, so we decided This is M.E. When I think about it, I think, yeah, that album is me. It's all my different kind of influences; it's got country, soul, rock, hip hop. It's got everything in there.

And you're working on a new album right now.

ME: Oh, yeah. I'm working on a Stax album from the Stax catalog. Concord Records owns the Stax catalog and they signed me to one deal, and I actually get to use the Stax Label. I'm covering Otis Redding and Sam & Dave; some of the original music that inspired our rock and roll artists. And, also writing some new songs too. I've been having a blast with that. It comes out the end of this year.

So that will be a mix of original and covers?

ME: It's mostly covers, but there's a couple of originals. There's about three original reimaginings of some of the songs.

How did you decide what songs to include on the album?

ME: Well, it was not easy. I started with 150, and then I went down to about 50, and then 20. I ended up recording 17 and now I have 15 that I am choosing from.

Who are some of your biggest music influences?

ME: Oh, gosh. I've had so many, from when I was young and listening to the music of the 60s and 70s, from The Beatles to Tammy Wynette to Marvin Gaye. And then in the 70s, it became Bruce Springsteen, Joni Mitchell, Paul Simon, and Led Zeppelin; just rock and roll, on and on and on and on. And then in the 80s, it was Peter Gabriel and Bruce Springsteen still. So I just love music; I listen and play and just enjoy so many different types.

Will that be reflected in your new album?

ME: It always is. I can't help it.

Is there a release date for the album?

ME: We're looking at October.

Will there be any collaborations?

ME: John Mayer came in and did some guitar on it. He's amazing.

You attended the launch of Women in Film's New Music Committee. Why is that an organization you chose to back?

ME: Because I'm a woman in film who wants to do more with that. It's ridiculous that of the top 500 films of last year, 1 percent had female composers. That's a little out of whack. It's just a part of the American culture, the American art, that has a blindside; that it doesn't even know that it's a boy's club. It starts with mentoring.

How would you like to see that change in the future?

ME: If the people at the top of the chain, that make the choices, that have the money, if they just take a little chance and go, 'You know what? There's also got to be a woman out there. I'm going to find her and give them a chance.' Just take a listen.

You'll be performing at the Westhampton Beach Performing Arts Center over 4th of July weekend. Will that be your first show there?

ME: I believe it is my first show there, but I have been to the Hamptons before and it is certainly beautiful there. I just love it there.

Do you have any favorite spots?

ME: I've been to East Hampton, mostly. That whole Town is my favorite spot.

What can the audience expect?

ME: They can expect to hear the hits, the songs that they know and love. Even though it's a solo show, they can expect to be on their feet, rocking and rolling by the end of the show. It's just a perfect night of music, that's what I'm after.

Tickets begin at $150 and the concert immediately follows fireworks.

WHBPAC is located at 76 Main Street in Westhampton Beach. For more information, call 631-288-1500 or visit www.whbpac.org.

Nicole is the Editor-in-Chief of Hamptons.com where she focuses on lifestyle, nightlife, and mixology. She grew up in the Hamptons and currently resides in Water Mill. www.hamptons.com NicoleBarylski NicoleBarylski

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