Etheridge had been diagnosed with breast cancer a few months earlier and the show marked her first public appearance since having a lumpectomy, along with numerous rounds of chemo. Looking bald and beautiful, she took the stage to show fans she wasn’t going anywhere.
“It was an opportunity for me to prove to myself that I could get back on the stage,” Etheridge told Radio.com. “This symptom of cancer that I had was not going to stop me, kill me, change me. I was actually going to be better after this and that the chemotherapy that was just sucking the life force out of me wasn’t going to keep me down.”
Before she went onstage, Etheridge shared a few words of advice with her duet partner Joss Stone. “I remember telling her like the wise older one that I am, ‘Oh don’t worry about GRAMMY audiences, they don’t stand up…don’t look to win the audience over because they’re industry. Don’t take it personally,’” she said.
But the minute Etheridge stepped on the stage to sing “Piece Of My Heart,” 35 years after Joplin passed away, she was greeted with a round of applause.
“Walking out on stage it was very warm,” Etheridge said. “It was a beautiful, beautiful feeling.”
Her voice was a little raspier than usual, but she was clearly happy to be back on stage. She even gave a little smile as she growled, “I’m gonna show you, baby, that a woman can be tough.”
By the end everyone was on their feet, including Joplin’s brother, Michael, and sister, Laura, who gave an approving thumbs up to the camera.
– Shannon Carlin and Heather Stas, Radio.com
Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images