One Way Out is the latest album from American musician Melissa Etheridge, a name that needs no introduction.
This will be Etheridge’s 15th studio album, featuring previously unreleased songs from Etheridge’s early back-catalogue alongside two other previously unreleased songs recorded at an intimate and boisterous 2002 concert at the Roxy in West Hollywood.
“These songs I’ve had to grow in to, it was nice picking them up and playing them again with the original musicians.” Etheridge tells Star Observer. “These are songs I wrote before I came out. I didn’t put them out because they were obviously about a woman, they were feminine in nature. It was for me, uncomfortable to present them at that time, because 1993 was very different to how it is now.”
Reflecting back on the time since, Etheridge says “after having come out and then having the great experience that I’ve had for almost 30 years now, having lived life a bit more, I was so glad I was able go back and do these kinds of songs again.
“The things that I write about now, I’ve grown so much as a human being and learned so much about myself and the world, all the experiences that I have had, have all changed my music.”
After the live music industry was bought to an absolute standstill by COVID-19, Etheridge is soon to be back on tour. She tells us that “the energy and connection of people in a room” is what she has been missing the most.
“The first thing we want to do is go out and dance, that’s what we do as humans. I just want to play music, be in the same room as people, and create music that we can all share.
“That’s the saddest thing, other than the loss of life and the sickness, it has isolated so many of us. Humans in our very nature are social animals, we want to be together.
“Going through the Trump years was also a huge slap in the face. Especially for those who live on the progressive side of life, with an understanding that we are all different and that diversity is our strength- seeing how close we came to losing all that shook a lot of people up.
“The changes I see all around me now, where we understand how important it is to have equal rights and protection, that’s not going away. We are moving forward and that’s exciting.”
Beyond the release of One Way Out, Etheridge shares with us details of a “very special kind of project.” that will see a return to her hometown of Leavenworth in Kansas later this year.
“Leavenworth is known for its number of prisons. When I was a child, playing in variety shows we would go inside the prisons, at age 12 and sing for the prisoners”
“These were absolutely some of the best experiences I’ve ever had with an audience- they were so grateful and delightful.”
“Seeing how the world has come along, I’ve found myself very interested in the types of social justice reform that needs to happen in America. So, we are going to go in, and film ‘Johnny Cash style’ a concert in the Kansas State Woman’s Penitentiary.”
We finish up our interview, by asking Etheridge if she still believes in the power of music to change the world, to which she replies
“Absolutely, but one needs to make sure we don’t preach- words don’t teach, it is actions that do, through music you can inspire people, that’s how we learn. That’s what I hope that I can create pieces of music that inspire people.”
One Way Out releases on September 17