Melissa Etheridge looks back at the performance that changed her life
Melissa Etheridge sounds very much herself on her latest record, “The Medicine Show.” As she told “CBS This Morning: Saturday” co-host Anthony Mason, that’s exactly what she wanted. It’s been 25 years since Etheridge released “Yes, I Am,” the album that sold six million copies and got people talking about her.
“Also I came out as a lesbian and that gave me a whole lot more publicity than I would have normally had. I always tell people it helped me at that time,” she said. “Yeah, well, they were talking to me about that ’cause there was nobody else to talk to about that at the time.”
“It’s funny, I’ll hear from people now, 25 years later, they said, ‘Oh my God, my parents wouldn’t let me listen to your album.’ I was banned from households, which, I mean, isn’t that rock ‘n’ roll?”
But the music stopped and so did her life in 2004 when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. The next year, though, she made a dramatic comeback at the Grammy Awards while undergoing chemotherapy.
“When I walked out on stage at the Grammys, I hadn’t been in public in three months. I hadn’t been anywhere. I didn’t know what was gonna happen. I didn’t want them to laugh at me, that was the one thing,” Etheridge said. “And I felt this huge wave the minute I got on stage … and I didn’t have as much energy as I usually have ’cause I was on chemo.”
Most would agree, it didn’t show.
“Well, I stood there in one place and I just saved it all for that last scream. And I got to tell you my life has not been the same after that performance and two weeks doesn’t go by that somebody doesn’t mention it still,” she said.
A few years ago at an appearance, Etheridge says, she noticed a young girl in a wheelchair who she could tell was in the midst of chemotherapy.
“And I was like, ‘Hey you know, I know what you’re going through. You know, I’ve been there.’ And the father turned around and he said, ‘Oh, Cecilia, this is the woman that I showed you her video,’ you know,” Etheridge recalled. “And it gives people strength. And so that it just keeps going on. So I feel real blessed that I got to do that.”
At 57, Etheridge is still cruising – literally. She just wrapped a week of performances on the Melissa Etheridge cruise through the gulf. For years, she says, she resisted the idea of a cruise ship. In the end, it was her fans who convinced her.
“I mean who would want to come and spend the week with me, ya know. But many people did,” she said. “Was so much fun.”
“Does that ever get old for you?” Mason asked.
“No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. Its why I do everything I do, for those couple of hours that I get to be in front of people who have taken my music into their lives,” she said. “So it’s, again, I’m very blessed.”
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