Grammy-winning artist plays at Centennial Hall
Melissa Etheridge to launch UApresents' upcoming season
Closely following the release of her 15th studio record, Melissa Etheridge will make a Tucson stop this weekend at the UA’s Centennial Hall.
The Grammy-winning songstress and LGBTQ activist will kick off the season for UApresents at 8 p.m. on Saturday.
Etheridge said she has not visited Tucson since the early ’90s but has very much been looking forward to returning.
“I have enjoyed Tucson even before I started touring,” she said. “I have some very fond memories of Tucson.”
Etheridge’s first album, which was released in 1988, quickly gained her recognition for its unique bluesy, soulful sound and emotive lyrics.
“I always listened to Bruce Springsteen; I love his music,” she said. “And Janis Joplin, her performance and voice definitely influenced me.”
Etheridge won her first Grammy Award in 1992, Best Rock Vocal Performance, Female, for the song “Ain’t It Heavy.” Looking back on her success, Etheridge kept her advice for younger musicians simple.
“Play because you love it,” she said. “You will be successful at what you love.”
In addition to a successful music career, Etheridge is known for her work in LGBTQ activism after coming out in 1993. Although becoming an activist wasn’t something she planned for, Etheridge said she couldn’t keep it out of her songwriting.
“I never signed up to be an activist, I just told the truth about myself,” Etheridge said. “That ended up having a huge influence on my music.”
Etheridge’s latest effort, “4th Street Feeling,” was released Wednesday. The new record sees Etheridge revisiting her Kansas roots, with the title track referencing a street in her hometown of Leavenworth. Her country and folk origins are evident in the songs “The Shadow of the Black Crow,” with its narrative lyrics, and “Kansas City,” which features the classic hum of harmonicas.
“I grew up playing in country bands, so obviously that had something to do with my music,” Etheridge added.
Etheridge said she’s looking forward to returning to a city where she used to play venues far smaller than Centennial Hall.
“I used to perform in coffee houses in Tucson,” she said. “It’s exciting to be able to finally play a show there.”