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Melissa Etheridge talks about 'M.E.'

"If I was home right now, I'd be watching football," Melissa Etheridge says on a recent Sunday. "My kids would be coming in and out, watching football with me, and I would be making breakfast."

That kind of Norman Rockwell normalcy is a rare commodity these days for Etheridge (a fan of the Kansas City Chiefs since her Leavenworth childhood). A new album on her own newly formed independent label means that even when offstage, she has marketing and publicity chores that cannot be ignored.

Sometimes, that means taking a meeting at Target's corporate headquarters in Minneapolis to personally thank them for selling her album, or any album. Sometimes, it means that, as her tour bus rolls between Clearwater and Sarasota on a Sunday afternoon, she's on the phone with an inquirer.

"This Is M.E." is the title of the album, released in September, that Etheridge will bring to the Pompano Beach Amphitheater on Friday, Nov. 28.

Etheridge says the name of the collection is emblematic of a "liberating" feeling that has distinguished her 2014, when she got married, started the ME Records label and celebrated 10 years of being cancer-free.

"It encompasses the power of what's behind what I'm doing, and also the decision to include so many different genres of music," Etheridge says of "This Is M.E.," which experiments with country, soul and even hip-hop.

Co-producers on the album include Jon Levine (Nelly Furtado, Selena Gomez), Jerry Wonda (the Fugees, Mary J. Blige, Akon) and Roccstar (Usher, Chris Brown), but Etheridge says the "core" of the album comes from the favorite instruments she brought to the studio: "my acoustic guitar, my Les Paul, my harmonica and my old 12-string slide guitar."

"It might surprise people to know that my first concert was Buck Owens, that when I was a kid Barbra Streisand hung the moon as far as I was concerned, and that [I think] Parliament Funkadelic is one of the greatest bands in the world," Etheridge says. "All of those exist in me."

The first song she wrote for the album is the last track, which almost didn't make the cut. The yearning ballad "Who Are You Waiting For?" got its first performance when Etheridge, 53, sang it during the June ceremony in which she married Linda Wallem. The gathering included a smattering of celebrities and her kids (Bailey Jean, 17; Beckett, 16; and 7-year-old twins Miller and Johnnie Rose), but it was the audience of one that made it so powerful.

"To be so overwhelmed with emotion can really choke one's ability to sing," Etheridge says, laughing. "I've never sang straight to one person holding her hand, looking into her eyes. It was very, very intense."

So much so that Etheridge thought it was too personal for the album. Wallem, who created the Showtime hit "Nurse Jackie," encouraged her otherwise, Etheridge says: "We talked about it, and she was honored and delighted to share with the world how much I love her."

Melissa Etheridge will perform 8 p.m. Friday, Nov. 28, at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, 1801 NE Sixth St. Alexander Cardinale will open. Tickets cost $45-$75. Call 954-946-2402 or visit

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