Like the rest of the world, Melissa Etheridge woke up the morning of June 12 in New York to hear about the shootings at Orlando's Pulse nightclub, feeling "whopped upside the head with pain and not understanding and wanting to feel better about it."
Unlike most, Etheridge had a way to do that.
Currently in the midst of a solo tour, the Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter started working on a song. She called a friend, producer Jerry Wonda, who was able to find her a studio right away, and Etheridge recruited some musicians for the session. She debuted the song, "Pulse," just a couple of nights later in Torrington, Conn., where Pulse victim Kimberly "KJ" Morris, who was from, and it's now on sale online, with proceeds going to the advocacy group Equality Florida.
"I just wanted (the song) to say that we can't let anything like this drive us away or make us feel that love isn't stronger, because love IS stronger," Etheridge, 55, explains. "As corny as it sound to talk about love, and I wish there were as many words for love in the English language as there are in other languages, love IS stronger.
"And I think what we're going to see come in the next month, the changes we're going to see because of this will show that love is stronger, that we are not going to let this instance break down our hoe. That's jsut not going to happen. We will be stronger."
Etheridge, who has four children with two of her previous partners, is hardly the first performer to make a quick musical comment on a crisis -- and others, including Christina Aguilera, have done the same with the Orlando shootings -- and she considers it part of her artistic mission. "I'm just doing what musicians have always done," she says. "We've always been the ones that bring the news to the town and we're the mirrors of society. We give that song we can all sing when we all get together. That's my job."
So is making more music. Etheridge -- who also won an Academy Award for "I Need To Wake Up" from the 2011 documentary "An Inconvenient Truth" -- has completed a new album of covers from the legendary Stax/Volt label. She recorded the set at Fame Studios in Memphis, where Otis Redding, Al Green and scores of others made records, and she was stoked to take on songs by some of her favorite artists and influences.
It's Otis Redding songs, it's Sam & Dave, it's the Staples Singers, and it's all imagined through the way that I love it," Etheridge says. "It's the roots of rock 'n' roll, and it's just an album you're gonna want to turn up and sing at the top of your lungs."
8 p.m. Thursday, June 23.
SoundBoard in the MotorCity Casino Hotel, 2901 Grand River Ave., Detroit
Tickets are $42-$60.
Call 866-782-0622 or visit soundboarddetroit.com.
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