A conversation with Melissa Etheridge before her solo show at Knight Theater.
Melissa Etheridge has been recording and playing music for 25 years, but it took a recent spark to get her to where she is today, at the tail end of a massive tour and closing in on one of the busiest years of her career.
The last 12 months have been different for the outspoken Etheridge, 54, who performs a solo show at the Knight Theater Sunday at 7pm. She began a 50-city tour June 10th in support of her new DVD, A Little Bit Of Me: Live In L.A.. She’s had several dates with her band, a few with Blondie and even one show with both Blondie and Joan Jett. But, for Etheridge, things really kicked off when she released her first ever independent album, This Is M.E., last fall.
“A couple years ago, I took a good look around and looked at my career and said, ‘You know? I need a new injection of energy. I need to jump-start things again.’ Part of that was jumping off the corporate music ship, which is sinking anyway,” Etheridge said. “At some point [music corporations] will be obsolete, because we can now reach our fans directly. It’s a wonderful time for artists. It’s a renaissance.”
A huge part of that renaissance is social media, and while other artists with the same level of success may shy away or would rather a manager or PR person handle such things, Etheridge knows the importance of communication with fans. Two years ago, she began understanding its role in the music industry.
“I think my fans know my voice. They know when it’s me and that’s important to them,” she said. “So, I like to stay very, very hands-on, especially on Twitter. That’s all me.”
For someone as personal and hands-on as Etheridge, the 1,191-seat Knight Theater seems like the perfect place to host the artist without a backing band. “With the Charlotte shows, one thing you guys have always loved is rock and roll, and you keep the rock and roll fires burning,” she said, adding that her solo show will be a bit different than what she’s brought to Charlotte in the past. With no backing band, Etheridge will create loops and play the guitar as well as the keyboard and the piano. “The solo show is very intimate, not any less rocking, but you get to see more of the creation of the song.”
Etheridge mentioned the audience that shows up every night as the primary reason she’s been able to stay so motivated over the years. She said she’s been able to do it her way, to be exactly who she is, yet still find plenty of success. As for the show Sunday, expect what you’ve always expected of her.
“You’re going to hear your favorite songs, you’re going to hear a couple new songs and a couple deep album tracks,” Etheridge said. “And you’re going to be sweaty and feel a lot better when you leave.”
8/23/15, Knight Theater, 7pm, $20-$104.50
Tickets or call 704-372-1000
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