With new works in the mix, Indigo Girls keep it moving
Emily Saliers and Amy Ray, otherwise known as the folksy rock duo Indigo Girls, revel in the artistic liberty of becoming indie girls.
The Indigo Girls, who perform Sunday at the Byham Theater, are writing songs with plans for a new studio album, likely within a few years. It would be their fifth album from their own IG Recordings, an indie distributed by Vanguard Records. Ray, meanwhile, is working on another solo album.
The Indigo Girls — who released their last studio album, the 13-track “Beauty Queen Sister,” in October 2011 — spent years with major record labels, with nine albums for Epic Records and one — “Despite our Differences,” released in 2006 — for Hollywood Records. But now, the women can excel doing their own music on their own terms, with an established fan base.
“It gives us freedom; no doubt about it,” Saliers says. “I think we're more prolific and productive now than we ever have been. ... We don't have to wait for permission or go through different channels. At this point in our career, we have all the relationships established to do everything we need to do.”
The big-business culture at major record labels can stifle an artist, Saliers says.
“The industry has changed too much,” she says. “There is a lot of fear and a lot of pressure in the industry ... and people buy much fewer records.
“It's just an atmosphere that's very crushing to me in terms of pressure to be successful,” Saliers says. She divides her time between her hometown of Atlanta and Toronto, where her partner lives. Saliers, a foodie, owns Watershed on Peachtree, an Atlanta restaurant.
The Indigo Girls started performing together when they were in high school, and played for many small clubs.
Their big break came with the 1989 release of their self-titled album, which included the first hit, “Closer to Fine” and won Best Contemporary Folk Recording at the 1990 Grammys. Throughout their long career, the Indigo Girls have released 14 studio albums, three live records and three greatest-hit compilations. Most of their albums, which have sold more than 12 million copies, have reached at least gold status, with four reaching platinum and one (the debut) reaching double platinum.
Saliers and Ray plan to create an album featuring instrumental backings from many city symphonies. They have performed with many symphonies, though the Pittsburgh concert is not symphonic.
“It's a completely different experience,” Saliers says. “You've ... got no drummer ... then you've got a conductor.
“It's really been fantastic. It's really been a growing experience for us,” she says. “It's given me a new love for the symphony music. The fans' response to the concerts has been fantastic. It's great to get the experience ... so far into our career.”
Saliers and Ray, both lesbians, have earned many fans and admirers outside of their music. Both women serve as champions for social and political causes, namely gay rights and environmental issues. The women also work with indigenous Native American communities that are facing nearby mining and environmental damage.
Saliers says she is glad that her fame has inspired people to support worthy causes, but perhaps the famous people get too much credit.
“For better or for worse, we live in a culture that does pay a lot of attention to celebrity,” she says. “The ones who are doing the really, really hard work don't get the attention. They do hours and hours of planning. Everybody has their part. We just try to ... give it a public face.
“Music has been a galvanizing force for positive change,” she says. “We recognize that that's our role. We use our gifts to give voice to struggles of people. It's about ultimately working toward equality.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Ed Sheeran coming to Pittsburgh in May
- James Carter Organ Trio brings new energy, new metrics, new swagger
- Microtonal music festival goes off the beaten scale in Pittsburgh
- Aretha Franklin plans April show at Heinz Hall
- Drummer Gadd delivers birthday present to fans
- Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra to move in step with ballet music
- Beaver Falls grad lands Ohio symphony post