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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, May 5, 2017 - Volume 45 Issue 18
Melissa Etheridge and Lea Michele bring different musical styles to Seattle on back-to-back nights
Arts & Entertainment
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Melissa Etheridge and Lea Michele bring different musical styles to Seattle on back-to-back nights

by Albert Rodriguez - SGN A&E Writer

MELISSA ETHERIDGE
PARAMOUNT THEATRE
May 7


Melissa Etheridge has literally been one of the strongest voices of the LGBT family, using her songwriting and music to inspire a younger generation of Gay people to love themselves and to move past life's toughest challenges. The Grammy and Oscar winner's self-titled debut from 1988, which I still listen to frequently, was almost entirely devoted to a painful breakup. With tracks like 'Similar Features' and 'Bring Me Some Water,' that record has to be one of the best rock albums by any singer-songwriter out there, not to mention the fiery 'Like the Way I Do' became an anthem for anybody who ever suffered from a shattered heart; the live version of that hit blew me away the first time I listened to it.

As she experienced changes in her life, such as publicly coming out in 1993, or being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, so did her music, at least the lyrics reflected what she was going through. The Kansas-born artist expanded her talents to social and political issues, penning the song 'I Need to Wake Up' for the documentary film An Inconvenient Truth, which earned her an Academy Award in 2006. Similarly, she wrote 'Four Days' following the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and a year ago released the powerful single 'Pulse' that she crafted within days following the Orlando tragedy. Since the 2016 presidential election, Etheridge has also been very active on social media critiquing Trump and rallying her LGBT brothers and sisters to be 'stronger together.' Slightly off topic, the rock icon now owns and operates a marijuana business in California. How could you not love this woman?

Her latest music venture is Memphis Rock and Soul, an album devoted to the Stax Records catalog, covering twelve gems from the historic label, including 'Respect Yourself (People Stand Up),' 'I'm a Lover,' 'Wait a Minute' and 'I've Got Dreams to Remember.' It's a soulful-bluesy journey for Etheridge, a refreshing excursion from her rockier material that begs to be heard live. Lucky for Seattle fans, she'll be in town this weekend to perform many of these songs, and quite possibly some of her own. Her set list will lean heavily on Memphis Rock and Soul, so don't go expecting her to do all of the big hits; although she may do a few of them.

For tickets to see Melissa Etheridge at the Paramount Theatre, visit STGpresents.org.

LEA MICHELE
MOORE THEATRE
May 8


What ever happened to Rachel Barry, the snobbish yet immensely talented high school diva-in-the-making from 'Glee'? Before the TV series sang its final note in March 2015, Barry had rolled back into Lima, Ohio after a successful Broadway debut and an overly ambitious attempt at starring in her own television show that completely bombed. Did she go back to New York? Or did she return to LA? Or did she stick it out at McKinley High and singularly take over the glee club (much to Kurt's chagrin)? Unless there's a reunion special being planned by Ryan Murphy, we'll never quite know.

I can report, however, that Lea Michele, who marvelously played Barry in the Fox comedy, moved on from 'Glee' and appeared in another Murphy series, 'Scream Queens.' She also released two albums of her own material, 2014's Louder and this year's Places; the former includes the emotional track 'If I Say So' that was penned following the death of her boyfriend and 'Glee' co-star Cory Monteith. And while she hasn't made a full return to Broadway, where she launched her career in a production of Les Miserables in 1995 and later earned a Drama Desk Award nomination for her role in Spring Awakening, Michele has performed in several Broadway special events and fundraisers in recent years.

Worth noting is the native New Yorker's longtime alliance and support of the LGBT community, from her participation with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS to her performances at the 2009 Human Rights Campaign dinner and a month later joining Spring Awakening alum Jonathan Groff at a fundraiser for True Colors Cabaret, a project that supports Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender equality. Just last year, Michele appeared in a touching video that honored the victims of the Pulse nightclub shooting.

In a recent interview with Mix 106.1 radio station in Philadelphia, where she kicked off her tour at the Merriam Theatre on May 1, she divulged a few details about what she's performing in the show, saying that besides a bunch of songs from Places and a couple from Louder, she's also assembled a section of the concert with 'Glee' cover tunes. Me thinks Michele might just belt out 'Defying Gravity,' or 'Don't Rain on My Parade,' when she performs May 8 at the Moore Theatre. But there were so many good songs included in that series, and so many of them featured her as lead vocalist, that it'll be interesting to hear which ones she chose for the tour. 'Firework' and 'Without You' are two of my personal favorites, and I also loved how she stood out in 'Keep Holding On' and 'The Scientist.'

For tickets to see Lea Michele live, go to STGpresents.org.

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