With Broadway residency, new memoir on the horizon, Melissa Etheridge is finding inner joy again

“Melissa Etheridge: My Window” opens in September in New York.

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Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge

Elizabeth Miranda

More than 190,000 people descended on Soldier Field last month to witness the musical magic spun by Taylor Swift.

And one of those mesmerized people was Melissa Etheridge.

“There was just so much love at that concert,” recalls the legendary hitmaker who traveled to Chicago from Los Angeles to meet her daughter Bailey at the much-anticipated show.

“I think the pandemic really brought it home how much we missed gathering together in large groups and celebrating in songs that mean something to us.”

Certainly it’s been a celebration that has also been going on at Etheridge’s live shows for decades via music created to unite, not separate.

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MELISSA ETHERIDGE

When: 8 p.m. July 28

Where: Rivers Casino Event Center, 3000 S. River Road, Des Plaines

Tickets: Sold Out

Info: riverscasino.com


“I think as a human race and through all time, we’ve always gathered and done rituals, you know?” says Etheridge, a visionary who broke onto the American rock scene in 1988 courtesy of her critically acclaimed, self-titled debut album. “Even when we were in caves, we were getting together and singing. It’s good for the human soul.”

It’s good for her soul, too.

“It definitely goes both ways,” the Grammy Award-winning artist says.

“Family is the thing that has surprised me the most in my life,” continues the 62-year-old mother of four, who shares two children with her former partner Julie Cypher.

“Growing up gay in the ’70s, we thought we weren’t going to have kids. It just wasn’t a thing. And so, in the ’90s, when it was like, ‘Oh, let’s have kids,’ I was like, ‘Well, look at that.’ Having children is a whole other adventure that will lift you up like nothing else.

“It can also break your heart.”

Melissa Etheridge performs onstage during Day 1 of the 2023 Stagecoach Festival on April 28, 2023 in Indio, California. 

Melissa Etheridge performs onstage during Day 1 of the 2023 Stagecoach Festival on April 28 in Indio, California.

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In May of 2020, as the world was reeling with the uncertainty of the pandemic, Etheridge found herself reeling from the news that her 21-year-old son, Beckett Cypher, had died as a result of an opioid addiction.

“Isn’t life all about experiencing that wide range of feelings while we’re here?,” the “Come to My Window” hitmaker says. “Isn’t it about loving so much that it can hurt that much? [Pauses] My family is just such a deep, deep joy in my life.”

It’s this inner joy that Etheridge is now infusing into a plethora of projects she is working on, from her new Broadway show “Melissa Etheridge: My Window” starting in September, to the release of her new memoir “Talking to my Angels.”

“All of these things that are happening are things that I have wanted to do, they just all are happening at the same time,” says Etheridge, who made news earlier this summer when she snapped back at Rolling Stone on Twitter for not including “Come to My Window” in its 50 Most Inspirational LGBTQ songs of all time.

Telling her stories is something that Etheridge says is crucial these days.

“It’s kind of nice because it gets you comfortable with the idea that yeah, this is my story of my life,” she says.

Etheridge is also promising “something new music-wise” next year to add to a blues/rock landscape that seems to be lacking now.

“This is my life. This is life. This is what I’ve done, but life is still going. But I get to look and see that I did ok.”

And with each story she tells, she heals.

“It feels not so sharp and not so hard,” says Etheridge. “It’s better every day. And you do see other people relating to what you are saying, and you meet other people and you come to find out that I’m not the only one feeling this way.”

It’s this commonality that unites her audiences, with Etheridge routinely starting off her nightly set lists with songs such as “Ain’t It Heavy,” “All American Girl” and “No Souvenirs.”

“It kind of depends on the place,” she says. “It depends on the venue. I mean, we’re going to be here for two hours. We’re going to remember some things and we’re going to celebrate and we’re going to listen to music and that first song just always has a way of setting up people for an evening of fine entertainment.”

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