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Melissa Etheridge is a rock singer-songwriter and an environmental activist. Her hit songs include "I’m the Only One" and "Come to My Window."
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Melissa Etheridge was born on May 29, 1961, in Leavenworth, Kansas. Her career leapt forward in 1986, when Island Records signed her. Her fourth record, Yes I Am (1993), launched her into rock stardom with the two giant hits: "I'm the Only One" and "Come to My Window." Etheridge, who continued to churn out studio albums, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004. She made a full recovery.
"Don't let anyone tell you that you have to be a certain way. Be unique. Be what you feel."
"It's funny, the activist stuff just happens very naturally. I don't seek it out. I find the most activist work I do is just to live my life in a truthful manner and speak truthfully about it. That becomes activism in its own way. When asked by organizations that do the activism, I will lend my name."
"My personal goal is to get people to understand that health is our responsibility."
Rock singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge was born on May 29, 1961, in Leavenworth, Kansas. The youngest of two girls born to John and Elizabeth Eldridge, a high school teacher and computer consultant respectively, Melissa grew up in what she later described as a lonely home, where her family offered little in the way of emotional support.
For solace and companionship, Etheridge turned to music, picking up her first guitar at the age of 8. She took lessons, finding refuge in her family's basement, where she wrote and played her music. When she got older and gained enough courage, Etheridge started playing for friends. Even at a young age, Etheridge wrote songs from the heart, with lyrics that spoke of pain, love and abandonment.
"I learned very early on that I could write truths," Etheridge later told CNN. "I could write about sadness or anger, where I couldn't actually speak it."
At the age of 12, Etheridge began playing with other musicians, largely male country-music groups at local bars around her hometown. Her hoarse voice was evident even then, though, and her concerned parents had her work briefly with a voice coach.
In 1979, the 18-year-old Etheridge realized her dream of moving out of Leavenworth to pursue a career in music. She headed east, to Boston, to study at the famed Berklee College of Music. Playing opportunities awaited her as she quickly got up to speed on the piano bars around the city and started earning a few extra bucks.
School, though, was another matter. After just a year, Etheridge dropped out. Eventually she packed her life into her car and moved to the other coast for a new life in Los Angeles. It wasn't long before Etheridge again found decent work in the clubs around the city. She had a manager, too, who soon helped her land a desirable five-night-a-week residency at the Executive Suite in Long Beach.
In 1984, Etheridge caught a break when she was hired as a songwriter for A&M Records, giving the young musician the chance to write songs for B-movies.
Etheridge's career lept forward in 1986, when Island Records president Chris Blackwell heard her perform. He signed her a few days later. After an unreleased first effort, she completed her stripped down self-titled debut in just four days. Melissa Etheridge (1988) was an underground hit, and the single, "Bring Me Some Water," was nominated for a Grammy.
In 1989, Brave and Crazy was released and, failing to break the top of the charts, Etheridge went on the road. She built a widespread fan base thanks to long, high-energy sets in the spirit of her musical idol, Bruce Springsteen.
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Few people know the challenges that go along with fighting breast cancer. Aside from the powerful women who have to fight the illness, family, friends and colleagues band together during these trying times as well. And those women who survive the hardships that go along with the affliction—particularly those in the public eye, such as Nancy Reagan, Melissa Etheridge and Wanda Sykes—become inspirations for women everywhere to get checked regularly and stand up to breast cancer. Browse through our group to see the courageous women who triumphed in their fight against breast cancer.
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