Melissa Lou Etheridge (born May 29, 1961) is an American rock musician.
She was born in Leavenworth, Kansas.
Etheridge has produced eight albums since signing her first major recording contract in 1987. Three of them have gone multi-platinum: Melissa Etheridge (1988), Yes I Am (1993) and Your Little Secret (1996). Two others went platinum and another gold.
She has won the Grammy award for Best Female Rock Vocal Performance twice in her career, for the song "Ain't It Heavy" in 1992 and "Come to My Window", in 1994.
Etheridge is also famous as a gay rights activist, having publicly come out as a lesbian during President Bill Clinton's first inauguration in January 1993. She had a long-term partnership with Julie Cypher, which whom she had two children via a sperm donor, David Crosby. After splitting from Cypher she went on in 2003 to marry actress Tammy Lynn Michaels.
Though limited in acting experience it has been announced that a sitcom is in production to star Etheridge as a lesbian living with her heterosexual male best friend (together raising a third person's child.) Critics have predicted that it will be "like Will & Grace except cancelled."
In October 2004 she was diagnosed with breast cancer, but is expected to make a full recovery. At the 2005 Grammy Awards, she made a return to the stage and, although bald from chemotherapy, performed in tribute to Janis Joplin with Joss Stone. Etheridge was praised for her performance, which was considered one of the highlights of the show.