It’s been almost 25 years since the release of Melissa Etheridge’s first studio album and nearly 20 since she came out publicly with her aptly named 1993 album, “Yes I Am.”
Now the groundbreaking lesbian rocker returns to her roots with her latest album, September’s “4th Street Feeling,” named for a street in her hometown of Leavenworth, Kan. Her tour stops in Atlanta on Monday, Nov. 12, for a show at Symphony Hall.
Etheridge shattered barriers first by coming out in the early ‘90s and then by performing live at the Grammys while bald from breast cancer treatment. She returns to where she was born and raised for her eclectic 11th studio album, while experimenting with some new elements as well — like the banjitar featured in the first single, “Falling Up.”
Rufus Wainwright, the gay son of music marvels Loudon Wainwright III and the late Kate McGarrigle, has been a musical presence since childhood. He stepped out on his own in 1998 with his highly regarded eponymous debut disc and has been delighting his devoted following ever since.
Wainwright is renowned as much for his movie soundtrack work (his renditions of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” from “Shrek” and the Beatles’ “Across The Universe” from the “I Am Sam” soundtrack are legendary) as he is for his love of opera (referenced in song a such as “Damned Ladies”).
His talent and creativity seemingly knows no bounds, as evidenced by his spot-on recreation of Judy Garland’s infamous 1961 concert on his 2007 “Rufus does Judy at Carnegie Hall” show and subsequent live recording.
Queer singer/songwriter Nona Hendryx has had the kind of career longevity and variety that many musicians only dream about.
She is best known as one-third of the groundbreaking soul/rock trio Labelle, scoring the massive 1975 hit “Lady Marmalade” with bandmates Patti Labelle and Sarah Dash.
But the uncompromising Hendryx — who came out as bisexual in a 2001 interview in the Advocate — has also had an unconventional solo career, daring to go in musical directions (i.e. performing with Bill Laswell’s Material and being a backing vocalist for Talking Heads) few others would ever consider.
Her latest album, “Mutatis Mutandis,” was recently released on Ani DiFranco’s Righteous Babe label.
When sisters Sonia Rutstein and Cindy Frank formed the band disappear fear back in the mid-1980s, Ronald Reagan was president, “trickle down economics” was the buzzword, gay couples were not allowed to marry anywhere in the United States, and there were no out pop music stars.
“On one side there was ‘Women’s Music’ (which we felt was sweet but boring) and there was rock and dance,” recalls SONiA, a Jewish lesbian who prefers to go by just her first name, complete with creative capitalization.
“Today countless singer songwriters and fans approach me and say, thank you — your strength and courage gave me the courage to be true to myself and my life,” she says, while adding, “I am glad to be the medium for such light and healing. It is not me — it just comes through me.”