Melissa Etheridge

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Melissa Lou Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American rock singer-songwriter and musician. She has received fifteen Grammy Award nominations winning two [1], one Academy Award and has sold twenty-seven million albums worldwide and almost fourteen million in the United States alone.[citation needed]

Known for her mixture of confessional lyrics, pop-based folk-rock, and raspy vocals,[2] Etheridge has been an iconic gay and lesbian activist since her public coming out in January 1993.[3]


Life and career

1961–86: Early life and career

Etheridge was born in Leavenworth, Kansas, the younger of two girls, to John Etheridge, a psychology teacher at Leavenworth High School, and Elizabeth Williamson, a computer consultant. She attended David Brewer School, which is still located at 17th and Osage Streets. She graduated in 1979 from Leavenworth High School (LHS), 10th Avenue and Halderman. Etheridge was a member of the first "Power and Life" musical/dance group at LHS which is still active today. Her childhood home was at 1902 Miami Street.

Etheridge's interest in music began early; she picked up up her first guitar at 8. She began to play in all-men country music groups throughout her teenage years, until she moved to Boston to attend Berklee College of Music.

During her time in Berklee, she befriended fellow student Lauren Passarelli, now a guitar professor at Berklee. Etheridge played the club circuit around Boston, but after three semesters decided to drop out of Berklee and head to Los Angeles to attempt a career in music [2]. Etheridge was discovered in a bar called Vermie's in Pasadena CA. She had made some friends on a women's soccer team and they came to see her play. One of the women was Karla Leopold, whose husband, Bill Leopold, was a manager in the music business. Karla convinced Bill to see her perform live. He was impressed, and has remained a pivotal part of Etheridge's career ever since.[4] This, in addition to her gigs in lesbian bars around Los Angeles, got her discovered by Island Records chief Chris Blackwell. She got a publishing deal to write songs for movies including the 1986 movie Weeds.[5].

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