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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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While the adoration continued with her third release, Never Enough (1992), it was Etheridge's fourth record, Yes I Am (1993), which launched her into rock stardom. With ex-Police producer Hugh Padgham at the helm, the album produced two giant hits: "I'm the Only One" and the Grammy-winning "Come to My Window."
The record was more, however,
than just a showcase of Etheridge's musical evolution. It also reflected the musician's comfort level with herself. Her life had taken considerable leaps in the years preceding the album's release. In 1988, she met Julie Cypher, then the wife of actor Lou Diamond Phillips. The two women quickly fell in love, and Cypher left Phillips for Etheridge.
For Etheridge, questions about her sexuality had constantly dogged her. Cognizant of the possible repercussions her career may experience if she confirmed she was gay, Etheridge walked a tight line. Finally, though, in 1993 she broke her silence in dramatic fashion, formally coming out of the closet at an inaugural ball for President Clinton. "I remember walking up and on the microphone, with thousands of people going, well, you know, I'm proud to have been a lesbian all my life," Etheridge told CNN. "And I'm like, oh, wow. I just came out."
The next few years proved to be wonderful ones for Etheridge. She wrote and recorded more music, and Cypher gave birth to two children: Bailey Jean (born in 1997) and Beckett (born in November 1998). Just as it had been when the press and the public wondered about Etheridge's sexuality, curiosity buzzed about who had fathered the couple's children.
Finally, in a celebrated cover story in Rolling Stone in 2000, Cypher and Etheridge came clean, announcing to the world that David Crosby was the biological father of both of their kids. Around this time, however, problems between the couple surfaced. The year culminated with Etheridge and Cypher announcing their breakup, a painful end for Etheridge that she later documented in her honest and revealing autobiography, The Truth Is: My Life in Love and Music, published in 2001.
It wasn't long, however, before Etheridge's love life took a big turn for the better. Soon, Etheridge was seen hitting the LA scene with actress Tammy Lynn Michaels, a woman 14-years younger than Etheridge who had starred in the WB program, Popular, and would later be featured in the TV drama The L Word. In September 2003, the couple participated in a commitment ceremony. Three years later, Michaels gave birth to twins: daughter Johnnie Rose and son Miller.
Etheridge, who continued to churn out studio albums, including the 2004 recording Lucky, found her life derailed when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Etheridge would go on to make a full recovery, but just like so much else in her life, she wasn't afraid to expose her illness or the struggles that came with it as she fought the disease.
In one of the more dramatic moments in Grammy history, Etheridge, bald from her chemo treatment, showed up at the 2005 awards—her first appearance since being diagnosed with cancer.
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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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