Melissa Etheridge: She’s in charge

Melissa Etheridge
Melissa Etheridge

Rocker Melissa Etheridge is high on life these days.

She’s juiced about making music again. Touring. And mixing wine and marijuana.

But it’s not what you’re thinking.

Etheridge’s No Label Private Reserve is a cannabis-infused $420-a-bottle wine that she helped develop after successfully battling breast cancer. The wine, created with the Greenway dispensary in Santa Cruz, California, is mixed with cannabidiol (CBD), the extract from the plant that has no psychological impact on its users, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

“It’s a whole new horizon of products that are coming out of the cannabis revolution,” Etheridge, 54, said in a telephone interview. “The social stigma that has been placed on cannabis is slowly being lifted, but people still have this huge fear of this marvelous, medicinal plant.”

Music, Etheridge’s primary concern since the release of her eponymous debut in 1988, has changed immeasurably. But the singer-songwriter has found a way to survive the new realities while recording her latest album, This Is M.E.

“The key is to remain flexible and the way to do that, I’ve discovered, is to keep the enjoyment, keep the love of the work and make that be the focus,” she said. “I want to create the music I love and share it with people, and there are all kinds of different ways I can do that now.”

Etheridge — one of only two solo women songwriters to win a best song Oscar (she won in 2007 with I Need to Wake Up; Carly Simon is the other for Let the River Run in 1989) — went indie. “When the scaffolding was falling down, and the business was sinking year by year, I decided to get new management and jump off the corporate record world. It has made me more of a business person, which I successfully got to not be for many years,” she said.

Touring, which brings her to the Fontainebleau Saturday works, too, because Etheridge has created four formats for the road: solo acoustic shows (a la the Fontainebleau’s Bleau Live date), full band, full band with orchestras and co-headlining shows with Blondie and Joan Jett. “I’m able to come back to these markets and have different, exciting shows, and fans can some see me, and it’s not the same show each time.”

Social media also has Etheridge buzzed. Thanks to sites like Twitter, musicians can reach out to fans directly. “People think the music industry is crashing and ending, but no, this is a new time of artist renaissance when we have a whole lot of power,” she said. “This is kind of fun. The new market levels the playing field.”

Melissa Etheridge performs at Bleau Live at 8 p.m. Saturdayat Fontainebleau, 4441 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Tickets: $99-$129. Call 305-535-3283 or visit

Howard Cohen: 305-376-3619, @HowardCohen