Melissa Etheridge

Melissa Etheridge by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images

Melissa Etheridge had no doubts when she came out as a lesbian at the Triangle Ball, a part of Bill Clinton’s 1993 inaugural celebration. “It was kind of obvious to anyone who knew me,” she told TODAY. “I never tried to be anyone I wasn’t.” The two-time Grammy Award-winner released multi-platinum album “Yes I Am” just months later, which featured the iconic hit “Come to My Window.” And while Etheridge eventually found major success, when she first moved to California at 21, she couldn’t find any venue to let her play. But it was women’s bars and clubs around Los Angeles, Pasadena, Long Beach that gave her the space to play, which she did five nights a week for five years. Eventually, in 1987, she was signed to Island Records by Chris Blackwell. Reflecting on her struggles, Etheridge is thrilled to see the young queer talent populating the mass market. “I love the way this younger generation has relaxed,” she told TODAY. “For us, it was that you were supposed to be straight. Then, it was either you were straight or you were gay. Now, there’s this beautiful spectrum of people who don’t have to make up their minds. They can be, like, whatever they want.” Most recently in her own career, Etheridge has released “One Way Out,” a new single, as part of a project set to bring back songs that weren’t quite right for her early ’90s and 2000s albums. “These songs are really fun, kind of pure rock ‘n’ roll,” she said. “I just think my fans will love it.” —IL

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