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Melissa Etheridge's 'The Awakening' Chronicles Life Changes Since Battle with Cancer

Three years ago, rock singer Melissa Etheridge faced a life-changing experience that inspired her to make the most personal album of her career. VOA's Mary Morningstar has more on Melissa Etheridge's new album, The Awakening.

Since the release of her debut album in 1988, Melissa Etheridge has sold more than 27 million albums worldwide. Her biggest hits include "Come To My Window," "I'm The Only One" and "I Want To Come Over."

For her new album, The Awakening, Melissa says she wasn't interested in writing songs with commercial success in mind. When she told executives at her record company she had created a concept album, Melissa says she was met with their approval.

"They've always been very supportive of me as an artist," Etheridge says. "And, I think, I have a sneaking suspicion there are a lot of people out there who remember what it was like to buy an album, and go home, and listen to it from beginning to end. I asked them to give them the chance to put it on from the beginning, sit down (and) relax. Just give yourself that hour to listen to it, and have that experience."

The songs on The Awakening represent how Melissa's life has changed since her successful battle with cancer in 2004. Her one-year-old twins with partner Tammy Lynn Michaels also brought a new perspective to Melissa's life.

"Because I've always been a songwriter who writes very autobiographically and writes (about) what I'm going through, of course the events in my life in the last three years really dictated my music because my perception of life, my focus, all of that changed," she says.

Melissa is an outspoken gay rights activist, who often writes songs that deal with tolerance and equality. Her latest album also addresses her stand on the Iraq war. As for her legacy, Melissa says, "I would like to be known as a good American, someone who really believes in the dream of democracy. I would like people to say, 'Oh, she really believes in American people - and she wrote some good songs too.'"

In late August, Melissa wrapped up a 43-city North American concert tour. She says she plans to limit touring to the months when her two older children are on school break.