the process of a basic phone interview (or “phoner,” as
those in the biz like to say) with a rock star is pretty
painless. The journalist is told exactly when their phone
will ring and given X amount of time to engage in small
talk with the artist, sometimes with an agent listening
in on a third line, just to make sure any frowned-upon topics
don’t enter the conversation. It’s not brain surgery. But
every once in a while the number of hoops requiring jumping-through
is commensurate with the size of the star.
Enter the case of rocker Melissa Etheridge: Trying to schedule
and complete an interview for this piece was like herding
cats. A botched time-zone adjustment and an ahead-of-schedule
phone call foiled the first attempt. A connection was made
a few days later, but it was fleeting—Etheridge had called
from her car on the drive home from a rehearsal. (“I’m hands-free,”
she assured me.) Five dropped calls later, the interview
was again bumped.
So when the Grammy- and Oscar-winning singer—who begins
the American leg of her Fearless Love 2010 Tour at the Palace
this week—finally rings up from the landline at her California
home, I know it’s now or never. In this situation, one must
lead with the hard questions. “Ms. Etheridge,” I inquire,
“are you trying to get an EGOT?”
After the meaning of EGOT is explained (it’s short for Emmy-Grammy-Oscar-Tony),
Etheridge says, “Is that what they call it?” She laughs.
It’s a just-playing-along kind of laugh, I think, as she
never explicitly denies the quest.
She mentions that she’s been dabbling in Broadway—“I’ve
been invited to sing a song with the [cast of Broadway show]
Million Dollar Quartet next weekend,” she enthuses—then
reveals that she has a musical of her own in the works.
That’s more than dabbling, I suggest. But she will say no
more about the project, other than it’s in the “birthing
stages,” and that she’s working with her “best friend ever,”
Nurse Jackie co-creator Linda Wallem. (Wallem was
at one time reportedly developing a television series with
Etheridge, in case any EGOT suspicions need further stoking.)
What Etheridge really wants to discuss is her new album,
Fearless Love. Which is natural, since that’s her
latest record, but also of particular note because it’s
her 10th studio album. It’s a so-called return-to-rock record
that may not have quite the raw energy of her now 22-year-old
debut, but finds the singer at anthemic peaks she hasn’t
visited since 1999’s Breakdown. “It’s me wanting
to rock,” she says. “I’ve been doing this for a while, I
feel really confident. I’m going out into America, the world,
this summer, and I’m really excited about playing these
The road begins in Albany this week, a town Etheridge regards
fondly from past visits—she recalls walking “over that big
ol’ long bridge thing to the river”—and runs through Labor
Day weekend. So being away from home for months at a time
must get to be a grind after all this time, especially with
a family and all that, right? “Sometimes I do wish that
I didn’t have to travel so much,” she admits. “I wish people
could come to me. But then when I’m at home in my office
for three months, I’m like, ‘Get me on the road!’”
So after winning awards, playing for presidents, selling
out the Palace Theatre in Albany—is there anything (besides
a musical) left on her proverbial list? She pauses for a
moment. “Yes and no. I keep putting things in front of me,
because that’s what you do, you know? But 10 albums—wow,
that’s awesome. To be able to share that with people. .
. . I’m just grateful for everything I’ve done.
mostly in love with the creation process,” she adds. “Other
stuff, awards, is just gravy.”
Melissa Etheridge kicks off her Fearless Love 2010 Tour
at the Palace Theatre (19 Clinton Ave. , Albany) this Wednesday
at 8 PM. For more information, call the Palace at 465-3334
or visit palacealbany.com.
and the Movies
best known for his humble depictions of everyday New England
life, Norman Rockwell was no stranger to the glitz and glamour
of Hollywood. The master illustrator’s advertising work
was frequently commissioned by the film industry to promote
its feature films.
The latest exhibition at the Norman Rockwell Museum, Rockwell
and the Movies, explores Rockwell’s cinematic art, and
spans decades of film history.
Drawing on the Museum’s Art and Archival Collection as well
as private collections, the exhibit presents original paintings,
vintage posters, lobby cards and portraits of movie stars.
Familiar faces include Jennifer Jones in 1943’s The Song
of Bernadette (pictured), Tyrone Power from the original
The Razor’s Edge, and Ann-Margret in the 1966 remake
of Stagecoach. This is cinema as branded with Rockwell’s
and the Movies opens to the public on Saturday (July
3) at the Norman Rockwell Museum (9 Route 183, Stockbridge,
Mass.) and runs through Oct. 31. Kicking off the exhibit,
and the summer, visitors on Saturday can celebrate with
“Play Ball: An All American Fest”; the day of art, baseball
and nostalgia begins at noon. For more info, call (413)