Iconic Albums, Queer Activism And Influence – Kristy Apps Talks Her Melissa Etheridge Celebration Show

Longplays are making a comeback as Kristy Apps and fellow musicians take to the stage to celebrate American singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge’s debut, self-titled album.

Kristy Apps

Kristy Apps has been around in the Australian music industry for more than a decade, but her journey started long before that. She remembers being 12 years old and hearing Melissa Etheridge for the first time. The transcendent experience of listening to the “iconic album” by a singer with “so much power and guts” has lasted well into her adult life.

“It was probably the first time I felt like I saw myself reflected in any kind of media,” Kristy says.

She admits that she always felt different, a common experience for queer youngsters, and used her love for Melissa Etheridge to power her music career and fuel her desire to be a role model for change: “It made me connect with myself on a level that helped me feel of value.”

After first wanting to be a tennis player, Etheridge inspired Kristy to be a singer.

She describes the experience of playing Etheridge’s music on stage with her band and recalling her childhood favourites as “surreal”. The songs were ingrained for Kristy, and pivotal to her childhood and learning about her sexuality. “There was that thing of, ‘I’m not alone’.” She recalls the 1990s in which queer, butch women with a tender side were able to come out and have success. Artists like Etheridge and K.D. Lang inspired Kristy to be herself.

“Having that positivity, having those role models, really spoke in volumes, and then I was really able to dig deeper into the history of the queer movement.”

While Kristy’s singing style does feel reminiscent of Etheridge’s, she denies comparing herself to the '80s/'90s icon. They both have raspy, raw sounds that seem to come from a place deep within themselves, an honest place that few can get to, but Kristy’s love for the icon helps her to stay grounded. “She gives people hope through being such a devoted songwriter, activist. . . Good person,” Kristy describes.

Listening to Kristy talk, you get the sense that her wisdom has taken her to amazing places, while it also helps her stay true to herself. Activism, particularly Etheridge’s activism as a queer woman, is important to her. It inspires her to keep creating change for younger generations.

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Etheridge’s music remains iconic to Kristy, especially her unfiltered rock vibes, which helped her to connect to the rockstar when there were few other outlets to express her sexuality. Her voice was comforting, she says, and playing with her band today inspires her to keep going.

“I was always a bit scared to tackle Melissa Etheridge,” Kristy admits, “because they’re mammoth records, and that record in particular is such an important album to a lot of people.”

However, the time finally came for her to tackle these songs in her first two nights of the celebration show last year. Now, she’s bringing the show back for another night in Brisbane, to share an album which is deeply personal for her, and one that paved the way for queer women in music.

Kristy Apps is performing 'Melissa Etheridge' with fellow musicians Roz Pappalardo and Ofa Fanaika at The Tivoli (Brisbane) on 25 September.

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