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Melissa Etheridge Biography

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Birth Name: Melissa Lou Etheridge
Born: 1961/05/29
Birth Place: Leavenworth, Kansas, U.S.
Years Active: 1988–present
Genres: Rock

Melissa Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American rock singer-songwriter and musician. Etheridge is known for her mixture of confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock, and raspy, smoky vocals. She has also been an iconic gay and lesbian activist since her public coming out in January 1993.

After an unreleased first effort that was rejected by Island Records as being too polished and glossy, she completed her stripped down self-titled debut in just four days. Her eponymous debut album, 1988’s “Melissa Etheridge,” was an underground hit, and the single, “Bring Me Some Water,” a radio hit, was nominated for a Grammy.

Etheridge followed up her first album's modest success by contributing background and contributing vocals to Don Henley's 1989 album “The End of the Innocence.” She then went into the studio to record her sophomore effort, “Brave and Crazy,” which was released in 1989. “Brave and Crazy” followed the same musical formula as her eponymous debut and garnered a Grammy nomination. Like her debut, the album peaked at #22 on the Billboard 200 Albums chart.

In 1992, Etheridge released her third album “Never Enough.” “Never Enough” peaked at #21 and gave Etheridge her first Grammy Award for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female for her single, “Ain't It Heavy.”

Etheridge released what would become her mainstream breakthrough recording, “Yes I Am,” in 1993. “Yes I Am” spent 138 weeks on the Billboard 200 while peaking at #15 and scoring mainstream hits, “Come to My Window” and, her only Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 single, “I'm the Only One,” which also hit #1 on Billboard's Adult Contemporary chart. “Yes I Am” earned an RIAA certification of 6× platinum making it her biggest selling album to date. Etheridge earned her second Grammy for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female for her single, “Come to My Window.” She also garnered two additional nominations in the Best Rock Song category for, “I'm the Only One” and “Come to My Window.”

The success of “Yes I Am” helped increase sales of Etheridge's earlier albums. In 1995 “Melissa Etheridge” earned a RIAA certification of 2× platinum while “Never Enough” earned an RIAA platinum certification. Etheridge's follow-up to “Yes I Am” was the moderately successful, “Your Little Secret,” which was released in 1995. “Your Little Secret” was the highest charting album of Etheridge's career, reaching #6 on the Billboard 200. The album produced two Top 40 singles, “I Want to Come Over” and “Nowhere to Go,” and earned an RIAA certification of 2× platinum.

In 1996, Etheridge won ASCAP Songwriter of the Year award. She also took a lengthy break from the music business. Etheridge returned to the music charts with the release of “Breakdown” in October 1999. “Breakdown” peaked at #12 on the Billboard 200 and was the only album of Etheridge's career to be nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Rock Album. In addition, her single, “Angels Would Fall,” was nominated in two categories for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female and for Best Rock Song in 2000. A year later, another single from the album, “Enough of Me,” was nominated for Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female.

2001 saw the release of “Skin,” which peaked at #9 but dropped off the Billboard 200 after just 12 weeks. The single, “I Want to Be in Love,” was nominated for the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female. In 2002, Etheridge released her autobiography titled, “The Truth Is: My Life in Love and Music.”

Etheridge began 2004 with the release of her eighth album, “Lucky.” “Lucky” performed similarly to “Skin,” peaking on the Billboard 200 at #15 and spending 13 weeks on the chart. It also garnered a Grammy nomination for Etheridge's cover of the Greenwheel song, “Breathe,” in the Best Rock Vocal Performance, Solo category.

In October 2004, Etheridge was diagnosed with breast cancer. At the 2005 Grammy Awards (the same ceremony for which "Breathe" was nominated), she made a return to the stage and, although bald from chemotherapy, performed a tribute to Janis Joplin with the song, “Piece of My Heart.”

Etheridge wrote the song, “I Need to Wake Up,” for the documentary film, “An Inconvenient Truth,” which won the Academy Award for Best Original Song in 2006. The song was released only on the enhanced version of her greatest hits album, “The Road Less Traveled.”

“The Awakening,” her tenth album, was released in 2007 and debuted at #13 on the Billboard 200. “Fearless Love” followed in 2011, reaching #7 on the Billboard 200. In 2012 she issued her 12th studio album, “4th Street Feeling.”