Indigo GirlsEntertainment News, Feature Story, Latest Issue, Section 4A Thursday, August 31st, 2017
Back in San Diego, this legendary duo just won’t slow down
Sept. 13, the folk rock duo the Indigo Girls will be returning to the stage for one night only at Humphreys Concerts by the Bay. They played Humphreys last year around this time, and have been making the rounds across the country nonstop since early 2015.
The Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) jumped into the folk rock scene in the late ‘80s when singers like Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, Sara McLaughlin and Ricky Lee Jones were making a name for themselves. It was as if the country was jonesing for that style, their style, of music and couldn’t get enough of it.
Ray and Saliers met in sixth grade in Decatur, Georgia. “We actually met in elementary school,” Saliers said. “My family moved down to Atlanta from Connecticut when I was nine and we were in the same elementary school, that was when we first met, but then we were both in the chorus in high school, that’s when we became best buddies and when we started playing together.”
That was 43 years ago. Four decades have gone by since these two musicians met and realized that they had a style and sound that just needed to be heard.
It would take seven years, 1981, until they began singing together as a duo and recorded their first demo. They were still in high school when that happened. They started off as the B-Band, and then became Saliers and Ray. When they graduated they both went their separate ways to different colleges, but it was only a few years later, four to be exact, when they both realized they needed to be together to keep working on their music.
They began performing in 1985 as the Indigo Girls in clubs and bars in the Emory Village district of Druid Hills, Georgia. The duo name was found when the two decided to skim through the dictionary until they found a name that stuck out and spoke to them.
They recorded their first single entitled “Crazy Game” that year and in the same year they recorded their first self-entitled six track album, Indigo Girls (85EP), which was an extended play album that also included “Crazy Game”. That was when the duo approached Russell Carter hoping he would be their manager, but Carter turned them down and told them their EP material wasn’t mature enough.
Two years later they recorded their first full-length album entitled Strange Fire. That album peaked at No. 159 on the U.S. charts and gave the duo their first of three Gold albums. This time Carter became their manager and he still is to this day.
In 1988 they were signed to Epic Records after other folk rock groups like 10,000 Maniacs and Tracy Chapman urged them to sign the duo. In 1989 they recorded the album Indigo Girls, using the same title as before. The album went to No. 22 on the U.S. charts and went Platinum twice and gave the duo their first single hit “Closer to Fine” which placed at No. 52 on the U.S. pop chart. That led to a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album in 1990 and a nomination for Best New Artist. They lost that award to Milli Vanilli who eventually had the award taken from them because they admitted to not being the vocals on their nominated song.
The duo recorded their second album for Epic Records entitled Nomad Indians in 1990. That album went Gold in 1991 and peaked at 43 on the U.S. charts, and gave the duo the twelfth spot on the U.S. charts for the song “Hammer and Nail”.
Since then the duo has had 11 more albums with two going Platinum and one going Gold.
Both Ray and Saliers are politically active and do many concerts across the U.S. supporting LGBTQ rights, rights of Native Americans, National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty and Greenpeace. In fact many of their songs incorporate how they feel about these groups and their lives.
“I mean we have songs specifically that, I mean I have a song called ‘It’s Alright’,” Saliers said. “It says ‘ya hate me cuz I’m different, ya hate me cuz I’m gay’ and Amy has a fantastic song she wrote on mandolin called ‘Let It Rain’ that’s all about being queer and praying to the same God, it’s a very powerful song and just scattered throughout our discography are songs that speak to that [and other] issues. And then we have a long history of first coming out publicly a long, long time ago, and then being a part of the movement shelters for queer youth advocacy groups, the LGBTQ Task Force and when the marriage fight was on we supported the efforts to make gay marriage legal and we play all kinds of gay Pride parades as well.”
Being on the road seems to be a good fit for Ray and Saliers. Believe it, or not, they have a tour history spanning 25 years and it doesn’t look like they are slowing down. Over those years they have performed with many notable singers and musicians. A few of those singers are Joan Baez and Mary Chapin Carpenter. They are touring as The Four Voices Tour. The idea for the tour came about after a 25-year friendship. After their first concert they decided to create The Four Voices Tour and a year after their first performance they were back out on the road.
Even though they have continued to perform together, Ray decided to try her hand at going solo and released her first solo album in 2001. Since then she has released eight solo albums. She also founded the independent record label Daemon Records which is based in Decatur, Georgia.
Saliers debuted her first solo album this past August entitled Murmuration Nation. She’s pretty excited about this effort since it is her first solo album and it’s taken her a while to get it done.
“It’s in response to the [recent] election and the political and social situation of our country. It’s a combination of some pop songs, some sort of rock, but very heavily R&B and I’m gonna be touring behind that in the fall and into the next year.”
Tickets can be purchased for the upcoming show at Humphreys Box Office, charged by phone at 800-745-3000 or on-line at ticketmaster.com
For more on the Indigo Girls visit indigogirls.com
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