Tuesday 17 September 2019

Indigo Girls using music as catalyst for 'social change'

Emily Saliers, one half of 'Indigo Girls', chats to Jessica Farry about coming to Sligo Live and campaigning for social change

The Indigo Girls are celebrated not only for their incredible music but also for their political and social activism on such issues as LGBTQ and Native American rights, protecting the environment, and work against the death penalty.

The Grammy winning iconic U.S duo have developed a reputation for being socially and politically outspoken activists on a range of issues such as protecting the environment, LGBTQ rights and Native American issues.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers from Atlanta, Georgia will visit Sligo on Saturday, October 26th when they perform at the Knocknarea Arena as part of Sligo Live.

Emily told The Sligo Champion: "I can't even tell you how excited we are. We love Ireland so much. We don't get to Ireland too much. We've played in Dublin and a couple of other towns. We just love the spirit of Ireland and the beauty of the land. I don't know how much time we will have when we're there but we would like to see a little bit.

"We are doing a couple of other shows in London and other places. We are hoping that when our new album comes out that we can come back to England and Ireland."

The two met in elementary school and began performing together as high school students. It's a partnership that has lasted the test of time.

"We met in elementary school when we were nine and ten. We then went to the same high school and then graduated from the same college. We grew up in the same neighbourhood so we're sort of tied to each other.

"We're both very different in terms of what we bring musically. We compliment each other. I think if either of us were paired with someone else it probably wouldn't work."

They have released 16 albums as a duo, and won a Grammy for their self-titled album, which contains their signature song, "Closer to Fine". Separately, they've released solo albums and embarked on successful personal projects-Amy Ray founded a record company and a non-profit organization that promotes independent musicians, while Emily Saliers scored a film, opened a restaurant and co-wrote a book with her father.

"We tour now a lot less than we used to. We don't get abroad too much. We do a lot of gigs in the US just because it's closer and easier. We both have a child now.

"It's really thrilling to travel abroad and be among different culture," Emily added.

"We live completely separate lives, but support each other completely when it comes to solo projects. Amy has released solo albums and I've just written a book with my Dad. It's like a good marriage. It really works.

"We're both keen on keeping a balanced life. The main focus of our creative output is Indigo Girls, we work it out so that we have a good balance."

Indigo Girls are much more than their back catalogue of incredible songs and harmonies. They also fight for the Environment and Native American Issues. Honor the Earth, is the Indigenous environmental group Indigo Girls co-founded with Winona LaDuke and Native American activists in the early '90s.

They co-founded the non-profit Honour the Earth to raise awareness and financial support for indigenous Americans and environmental justice.

Emily continued: "Life inspires our music. There is so much going on politically, lots of things to talk about, what's happening to the earth, issues that concerned us. Having a child helps us to be even more sensitive to the world.

"We set up 'Honor the Earth' with Winona Duke and we work mainly on environmental issues and issues that are affecting native Americans. We work as sort of a liaison to non-Indian communities.

"Ever since we were babies we wanted to use music as a catalyst for social change. That really came from our parents and the way we were raised. Music is a great tool for change.

"We're working on gun control, the situation is insanity. LGBT rights, immigration rights, what's going on is horrible. There is a lot of work to be done."

While not a couple, both Emily and Amy have been open about being gay for some time. They did so when it was neither fashionable nor profitable and are regarded as icons of the LGBTQ equality movement, dedicating tours, benefit concerts and festival performances towards it over the years.

Indigo Girls feature in the 100 Greatest Albums made by women which includes Nina Simone, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, Madonna, Carol King, Ella Fitzgerald, Kate Bush, Bjork, Adele, Alanis Morissette, Diana Ross, Whitney Houston, Janis Joplin, Beyonce, Joni Mitchell.

The Indigo Girls join the Sligo Live line-up which includes The Coronas, Jools Holland, and His Rhythm & Blues Orchestra with special guest Eddi Reader and his 23-piece ensemble. John Bishop, The Blindboy Podcast, Bell X1's Paul Noonan, Lucy Wainwright Roche, The Delines and Café Spice, Wild Youth, Willie Watson, Niamh Farrell, Kevin Burke, All Tvvins, Somebody's Child, The Kilfenora and Bird On The Wire - The Songs of Leonard Cohen by The Whileaways and Pauline Scanlon with a 10 piece collective of outstanding musicians, and a Special Sligo Concert with 'Symphony of Dance' featuring DJs Roger B and Barron Cawley with Sligo Academy of Music Orchestra and special guest vocalist, Sinead Conway are just some of the acts for this year's Sligo Live Festival bill running from 18th to 28thOctober 2019. Tickets are on sale from or from Hawk's Well Theatre by phone (071) 9161518 or in person.

For festival details and regular announcements log onto:, follow us on Twitter @sligolive or like our Sligo Live Festival Facebook page

Sligo Champion