When the Indigo Girls hit the music scene, a queer folk duo from Atlanta was quite the departure from the kinds of role models, female musicians had. Now known for their heart-wrenching, gritty lyrics, warm vocal harmonies and social commentary, Amy Ray and Emily Saliers complement one another like no other duo and they have made their mark on the world of social activism just as intensely as they have on the world of music.
The duo was coming of age, so to speak, in the ’80s when other female-based bands and performers such as 10,000 Maniacs, Suzanne Vega and Tracy Chapman were finding success in the mainstream media. It left an opening for the the duo to shine into the lives of a flurry of listeners who would soon become loyal fans and admirers of their music.
While they continue to produce albums and tour together, they each have created individual careers for themselves as well. Saliers is a restaurateur and author and Ray has a solo musical career that rounds out her musical experience.
Recently, Ray sat down with Street Roots to talk about road maps that have led her to where she is now, the music industry, activism, gay marriage and much more.
Sue Zalokar: You and Emily have been forging the way for not only yourselves, but also the legions of female musicians who have and will come behind you. In your experience, has the music industry evolved at all for women?
Amy Ray: Definitely. It’s not perfect, by any stretch. There are steps forward and sometimes you step back. Sometimes it feels like it’s not getting anywhere. It has evolved though, and there are more opportunities for female artists — more exposure. Part of that is the Internet. There are so many avenues that are free and are open from the normal gatekeepers. Continue reading