By Melissa Etheridge

In our GRAMMYs As Told To series,  chatted with an artist about one of the Best New Artist nominees at the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards. Here, we feature Melissa Etheridge as she talks about Brandy Clark’s achievements and her elation upon learning that the country singer-songwriter is also openly gay.

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I’m a big fan of really classic country music. When I hear Brandy Clark, she reminds me of what I loved about Tammy Wynette, what I loved about Loretta Lynn. They were singing about the real woman’s experience.

There’s nothing slick about [Clark]. She is genuine. She’s a great writer. She knows how to write a great song from beginning to end, each verse, each line. I love that type of writing and singing and that kind of country music.

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Brandy Clark is an indicator that there’s some smart, talented, down-to-earth, really natural, organic artists that are still out there making music talking about the American experience or the world experience and writing about it. That always touches people. It can open the door to other artists like that so yes, this is very exciting.

I think this year is the year of the person behind the curtain. These are the artists who have written these songs and they’re starting to come forward, and Brandy Clark is one of those. She’s one of the writers who has been in the shadows and can stand up on her own. Brandy’s best quality as an artist is her authenticity. The dedication to the human art of songwriting, of taking a human emotion and making art from it that then touches people universally. She plays guitar, sings, her writing especially. The singer-songwriter model that she is is rare nowadays. It’s terribly refreshing.

I love her sense of humor in her writing. I think it’s very important. Oh my gosh, I listened to “Hold My Hand.” Oh, come on! That just goes right through. When a woman can touch the part that’s universal in so many other women, or anybody for that matter, and just touch on it so perfectly.

Her song “Get High” I think it’s going to save lives as far as I’m concerned. I think it’s a real, honest look at middle-aged women right now, and I think it was genius. I wish I had written “Get High” with her. I wish I could have my name on that.

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Oh my God, I did not know that she is gay. Lord have mercy, I’m jumping up and down here. Do you know what I love? I love that I read everything about her and it did not say that. It wasn’t like my bio 20 years ago. That was the first thing, that I was gay. Wow, well that makes me very happy.

I know that a couple artists have come out in country music. I feel like the boundaries that have kept people apart and kept people out of certain areas of music are coming down. I really wish the best for her. I’ve always stood by the thought: “If you are talented and honest about who you are and can deliver the goods and you don’t blame any failures because you are gay. If you just make it part of your life, people will accept it and you can succeed.” I think I’m starting to see that, and that’s really beautiful.

I just wish her the best, it just makes me so happy, her nomination. I will be watching for her. I hope she gets to perform something at the GRAMMYs, you never know.

Maybe they will invite me down there [to Nashville] someday now. Call me, Brandy! I’m available.

Watch the 57th Annual GRAMMY Awards on Sunday, Feb. 8, at 8 pm EST on CBS.

As Told To Annie Reuter 



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