The Indigo Girls at The Florida Theatre

by Faith Bennett
The Indigo Girls are a folk rock duo with numerous grammy nominations and even a grammy win in 1990. They are most known for their heartfelt and harmonious ballads like “Closer to Fine,” “Virginia Woolf,” and love songs like “Share the Moon.” The lineup (since 1985) consists of Emily Saliers and Amy Ray have who was able to take the time out her busy schedule to answer a few questions for EU.
“We met each other when we were really young. But we started hanging out through high school chorus.” Ray says that their early beginnings and established relationship as friends took potential strain away from their working relationship “I think when you start that early in your career there’s all kinds of pressure but at that point we were like “we’re just doing this for fun,” and we kind of take one day at a time and never thought about getting famous or making a ton of money.” “we got lucky because we sort of grew up together and we’re friends and we’re close but touring a lot together we sort of established separate live,” which Ray says allows them to enjoy their time together even more.
Ray and Saliers write separately and don’t collaborate until they want to start working on arrangements to “really make it an Indigo Girls song” which Ray notes takes a a lot of time. Due to their geographic distance, with Saliers living so far away as Canada, they usually start by sending lyrics and chord charts back and forth until they do meet up to really let the songs take shape. Lyrically, Ray herself says “I’m probably as inspired by writers, fiction and non-fiction, and poets, as I am by music.” Her early influences were as varied as Michael Jackson and the Partridge Family but songwriter greats like Woody Guthrie, Patti Smith, and Joe Strummer worked their way into her inspiration canon. “There’s so much great music and there’s so much great music now, there’s never a time when there’s not something to listen to.”
The Indigo Girls are also known activists. They are out spoken on issues like dirty energy (as opposed to solar or wind power) which massively pollute the environment, particularly Native American land as well as on their ongoing support for LGBQT communities. Ray says these concerns won’t affect the cities they tour in though it may affect the venues when it comes to corporate sponsorship or endorsement. Luckily, the Florida Theatre is entirely in the clear. “The activism that we do outside of our songwriting… like with tables set up in the lobby, that’s stuff we do because we believe in it.” Ray says it just came natural for them both. “We were raised, I think both of us, to be engaged in our communities and support community efforts.”
As far as their live performance goes, it might be best for fans not to expect any songs in particular. “There’s some songs we don’t play at all and there’s some songs we don’t play as much. We pretty much play what we feel connected to, and that may change over time.” She also mentions that even though fans may ask for specific songs they always try to play what they can still connect with, “We have a song people ask us to play sometimes and its called “Blood and Fire” and its really old and at the time it had a certain relevancy and a sentiment and I could really get behind it emotionally but I can’t necessarily feel the same sentiment. I know what I felt and I can kind of tap into it but it doesn’t feel as honest.” She concludes that “I guess Emily and I feel like we should only play songs we feel really connected to so we can give an honest performance.During the tour we change our setlist every night. There may be songs that we rotate in and out depending on what mood we’re in.”
For Ray, the most rewarding part of the Indigo Girls is the people they come in contact with. “There’s a lot of cool people that we meet.” She says she loves to meet people who have been in their audience and “maybe grew up with us” that go on to do what she calls “amazing” work in human rights or government. “It really makes you feel like you’re part of a network that really cares and for me it’s inspiring.”