Recently, I was driving through Leavenworth, Kansas, a town of 35,000 people, near Kansas City, Missouri. I noticed a large, guitar-shaped sign on K-7 at the city limits that proclaimed Leavenworth as the hometown of musician Melissa Etheridge. I must admit, I’m a Melissa Etheridge fan. She writes great lyrics such as “I want to swallow the moon/give a smile back to you/lighting your way” from the song “This Moment” off her 2004 CD entitled, Lucky.
Twelve years ago, on November 18, 1998, I photographed Melissa in concert at Memorial Hall in Kansas City, Kansas for the Topeka Capital-Journal. I remember the concert well, not only because she put on an outstanding show, but because I was suffering from the flu at the time.
Since 1998, Melissa has made the news for her personal life as well as her music. She and partner, Julie Cypher, had two children, fathered by sperm donor David Crosby, in 1997 and 1998. Melissa married actress Tammy Lynn Michaels in 2003 and battled breast cancer in 2004. She and Tammy Lynn had two more children by an anonymous sperm donor in 2006. Melissa won the Academy Award for Best Original Song, “I Need to Wake Up” from Al Gore’s documentary, An Inconvenient Truth in 2007. She has also been an activist for gay marriage and the use of medical marijuana.
As with all great songwriters, Melissa has transcribed her struggles of life and love into some powerful music. Hopefully, she can return home to Kansas City and share it with us again soon.