A Conversation With Emily Saliers Of The Indigo Girls
Since their first major label release 25 years ago, the Indigo Girls have been on the frontline of American folk rock. The duo of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray met in elementary school in Georgia and began rocking out in high school.
Both are active outside the realm of the Indigo Girls. Ray has a vibrant solo career and non-profit organization helping independent musicians while Saliers penned a book with her father and is a restauranteur.
These lifelong friends return to Richmond this Thursday with old favorites and songs from their most recent album Beauty Queen Sister. GAYRVA.COM spoke with Saliers during a quick break from the tour.
GAYRVA: The Indigo Girls always seems to be on tour. How do you balance life on the road with your relationships and family?
Saliers: It’s not easy – it’s all we’ve ever known though. If we want to continue making music, it’s part of the balance. There’s always been an understanding about that. We miss milestones sometimes, but it’s a beautiful thing to be able to tour for a living. Everything has it’s sacrifices. Both of us are in good ar in good shape at home.
We actually just took six months off. For us that was a record…
What did you do with that free time?
Sleep! I like to play with my dogs and be with my family. Really just normal stuff. Do the taxes, clean the gutters out, and cooking.
Do your partners get to go out on the road with you during certain parts of tours?
My girlfriend was our tour manager for a while…now she comes out and visits and Amy’s family comes out. If we’re playing a show near friends, we get to visit out-of-town friends.
You and Amy with Melissa Etheridge, k.d. lang, and Ellen were the first stars really to come out publicly. People may assume that you are all close friends. Are these people that you socialize with and have close friendships with?
No – not at all. Ellen, we love her show and we can’t get on it anymore! With Melissa, we used to run the same concert path and circles. Sometimes, people even stop and ask me where Amy is when we’re not on tour – I don’t know what’ she’s doing!
What song out of your song catalog is the song you are most proud of?
You can’t pick just one – songs are like your kids. There’s one called “She’s Saving Me” on our record Become You that’s always been near or dear to my heart. It captured what I wanted to say at that moment. It had a lot to do with when my sister died and the power of women that have guided me. It’s very biographical and has some mystical elements to it.
Your lyrics are very personal, highlighting love, heartbreak, and every aspect of life; does performing a song about a break-up or relationship ever conjure up hard emotions on stage? Are there any songs that you do not perform due to content or emotion?
Yes, they can be quite emotional. They also take on different meanings at different times. I remember playing certain songs for friends funerals or in New York City post-9/11.
Look at “Ghost.” I wrote it so long ago, but when I sing it now, it’s taken on a whole another life in 2012. If a song can do that, then it has staying power.
Sometimes, we won’t play a song for two years, then we won’t play it again…I don’t think we steer clear of anything except what we don’t feel like playing or I’ll regret writing a melody or lyric a certain way.
We – they don’t have to be big cities. New York City and Los Angeles both have this big vibe as do San Francisco and Chicago. They don’t have to be big cities though. We just played in New Orleans last night. It’s one of my favorites. I love the hispanic culture in Tucson, Arizona…I never get tired of traveling really. I have to say, Atlanta’s hometown and that’s always special.
Are there any musicians that you have not worked with that you would like to collaborate with?
I would love to work with Mary J. Blige, Beyonce, Stevie Wonder, and Kelly Clarkson.
Beyonce’s an interesting choice…
I went to see her live and she has an all women band, which I thought was very progressive and cool. I love the way she expresses herself, her voice just is other-worldly. I just love African American gospel music. [Gospel singers] have these voices that is just a direct connection to what I call God and they just move me. I just love her style. It’s super cool.
And Mary J. – I think she’s the only artist that I’ve flown to another city to see. I love her!
The Indigo Girls perform at Groovin’ In The Garden on Thursday, July 26 at 6 p.m. at Maymont, 1700 Hampton St., Richmond, VA. Click here for tickets and more information.
Kevin Clay is the editor and publisher of GAYRVA.COM. He is a Richmond native, loves the city and knows it's on the edge of greatness. Don't hold back RVA. You can follow Kevin on GAYRVA's Twitter or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amy Ray talks new Indigo Girls album, going digital, and being a new mom ahead of 6/21 Charlottesville show
“A lot of life has happened, and a lot of the songs for me had been written over a big span of time.”June 17, 2015
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