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Amy Ray is one half of the Indigo Girls, it's true, but this lens focuses on her as an individual and her projects.
She's a solo artist, and has started her own record label. She is actively involved in many social and political causes including women's rights, gay rights, Native American rights, gun control, abortion rights, and environmental protection among others.
Image Credit: My photo. Taken in Lowell, MA on June 23, 2011.
Amy Elizabeth Ray was born in Decatur, Georgia April 12, 1964. She grew up there with her parents, two sisters and brother.
Amy first met her future bandmate Emily Saliers when they were students at Laurel Ridge Elementary School. When they attended Shamrock High School they started performing together at talent shows and local venues as "Saliers & Ray" and the "B-Band".
After graduation she went to Vanderbilt University and a year later transferred to Emory University. Amy graduated in 1986 with majors in English and Religion. Emily had also ended up at Emory and it was there that they settled upon the band name of "Indigo Girls".
She began playing the guitar at an early age. She also plays the mandolin and harmonica.
Daemon Records is a non-profit label that Amy started in 1990. Her goal was, and still is, to present all kinds of music for all ages, from punk to folk and everything in between. To provide indie artists a place to be themselves without having to fit a mold, and to offer its listeners an opportunity to increase their exposure to different types of music. This diversity of sound has kept Daemon Records going and will always be part of the label's identity.
Amy's solo CDs
Excerpts from an Amy Ray Interview
Fred Mills from Magnet Magazine interviewed Amy Ray in 2005.
These are some of my favorite Q & A.
Fred Mills: Do your solo records allow you to express yourself more fully than doing Indigo Girls records?
Amy Ray: It's a different voice. It's something that's a little more singular, I think. Whereas it's harder to have a duo singing something like "Put It Out For Good." It's like the difference between when Tom Petty does something and when Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young do something. Certain songs are just singular, and while it's great to have harmony and everything, sometimes you want to hear one voice expressing itself.
Fred Mills: Given how personal your solo material is, when doing Indigos stuff do you ever feel any pressure from your label, Epic, not to veer into areas or language they might be uncomfortable with?
Amy Ray: No, I think it's a pretty clear slate. But then, I don't feel like we've necessarily pushed it that much, either. And it's interesting, because when I played "Lucystoners" for Emily, she didn't really have an appreciation for it and didn't really want to do it. So it was destined to be a solo song. And I think just the natural differences between how we express ourselves are going to make some things fall into the solo category, something that might be more graphic or that she might feel less comfortable with.
Fred Mills: You noted in some interviews around the time of Stag that you felt women had made a number of strides but were still finding themselves in a weird position in the United States. And it's weird how some things never seem to change. I just came across a recent interview with Rufus Wainwright in Uncut in which some of what he says almost echoes what you were saying. He's asked whether homosexuality is becoming more or less of an issue for him as his career develops and his response was essentially that homosexuality had become a paramount issue in the U.S. He said that for the people who voted Bush back into office, the real enemy today isn't terrorism but gays and women.
Amy Ray: Yeah, on some levels, definitely. It's funny. People love Ellen (DeGeneres), but they wouldn't love her if she talked about being gay on every show. They love her on a certain level. And pop culture is like that, where we have Will & Grace and we have Ellen and these pop-culture ways of kind of accepting gay people. But why doesn't it connect with who we vote for? I just don't know. It's like it's different to watch it on TV, or to say you like Ellen, than it is to say it's OK for two people to marry each other, to vote for someone that's pro-gay, you know? The disconnect is amazing.
Fred Mills: Do you think that an event like Lilith Fair would be possible in 2005?
Amy Ray: I don't think so. It might be possible, but I think there was so much backlash that no one wants to do it again! It was really successful, then everyone started being like, "Oh, we're not going to play them on the radio. They're a Lilith artist." Lilith became almost a derogatory term-it became that way in rock magazines, too. Not just Rolling Stone, either. Even the cool rock magazines.
Fred Mills: Tell me about some of the other activist-oriented things that are pushing your buttons these days. I know you attended the School Of Americas protest earlier this year.
Amy Ray: Yeah. I go to that whenever I can. And Emily and I are constantly working on Honor The Earth. It's an environmental group, but it's indigenous-Native American-activism. We're part of this group, but we're not on the board. We sort of started the group but the board is all indigenous. They raise money, make decisions and give grants that are all for Native action like frontline environmental groups. And we work a lot against fossil fuels, uranium and nuclear power, and toward wind and solar power. A lot of our work has been around nuclear issues. And then we do a lot of work around toxic issues with water, PCB, dioxins, also issues around gold mining, logging and hydroelectric dams. It's a very broad but necessary thing. I'm also going down to Mexico in May to spend some time on Zapatista issues. I did that about 10 years ago so I'm going to revisit that and see what's going on. We're also involved with the Future Of Music Coalition. That's a really great group.
Fred Mills: You've been running Daemon since 1990. What's the biggest challenge for an indie label in 2005?
Amy Ray: For me, it's deciding what your services are: how you can really serve your music community. There's so much infrastructure that can be taken advantage of by an artist just by doing it themselves. You know, even indie labels take a percentage of what the artist makes, and it's hard for an independent artist to make any money off their records. So I think it's really important for a label to look at how it's serving the artist, and that becomes harder and harder to figure out as record stores become less important. That's unfortunate because I love record stores. But Internet distribution is really, really important now. All these other things are taking over, things that are self-made, a lot of DIY potential. So I think you have to figure out if you are serving the artist or taking a big chunk of their money.
Amy Ray photos on Flickr
Those first two are mine. :)
curated content from Flickr
Amy Ray Videos
- Amy Ray's Site
The Official Website for Amy Ray that features tour dates, photos, messages from Amy Ray, audio, video for Prom and Stag, and the latest news.
- Amy Ray on MySpace
MySpace music profile for Amy Ray with tour dates, songs, videos, pictures, blogs, band information, downloads and more.
- Daemon Records
Amy's indie record label with artists including, Girlyman, Michelle Malone, and Rose Polenzani.