Melissa Etheridge Salutes Legendary Stax Records On New Concord Album: Exclusive
Melissa Etheridge will honor pioneering label Stax Records on a new album for Concord Music Group. The as-yet-untitled project -- the singer/songwriter and activist’s first musical concept album -- is slated for release in late summer/early fall 2016. It’s the first album for the Oscar and two-time Grammy Award winner since 2014’s This Is M.E.
Drawing from Stax’s vast catalog that includes songs by Otis Redding and Albert King, Etheridge is currently recording at Royal Studios in Memphis. The home of late music producer and Hi Records owner Willie Mitchell, the storied facility counts hits by everyone from Al Green to Mark Ronson featuring Bruno Mars (“Uptown Funk”). Working with Etheridge are Mitchell’s son/engineer Lawrence “Boo” Mitchell, top Memphis musicians including Hi Rhythm Section original band members the Hodges Brothers and Concord Label Group president John Burk, who is co-producing the forthcoming album with Etheridge.
“Known as Soulsville, U.S.A., Stax holds a unique place in music history and also influenced a lot of rock artists,” says Concord Label Group President John Burk. “Melissa’s own unique blend of rock and soul is perfectly suited to interpret some of the classic Memphis repertoire that was foundational to both genres.”
“There were no racial boundaries inside Stax,” adds Etheridge. “And I have a very color blind audience. I’ve spent months just honing in on which songs to record, the album’s ultimate feel and how we can marry today with yesterday and create something new. Then the players and the studio … I’m in heaven down here.”
Etheridge’s This is M.E. on her own ME Records debuted and peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard 200 and No. 5 on Top Rock Albums. All 13 of her non-holiday studio albums have reached the top 40 of the Billboard 200.
Among her best-known songs are “Bring Me Some Water,” “No Souvenirs,” “I’m the Only One,” and Grammy winners “Ain’t It Heavy” and “Come to My Window.” Etheridge won the Academy Award for best song in 2007 for “I Need to Wake Up,” written for the Al Gore documentary on global warming, An Inconvenient Truth.