It’s been more than two decades since folk singer/ songwriters Amy Ray and Emily Saliers released their first record, laced with delicious folk rock and sincere activism-inspired lyrics only the 90s could produce. Now on their 10th studio album, the duo known as the Indigo Girls continues to record and tour.
Arguably, Ray and Saliers reached the height of fame in the 1990s among college and independent rock acts such as R.E.M., but after 20 years in the music industry, the Indigo Girls continue to tour and record in a drastically different music industry. What was once an industry dominated by major record labels and college radio stations, the music business is now a hodgepodge of Internet sensations held together by dedicated traveling musicians, and the Indigo Girls have kept pace.
Originally from Athens, Georgia, Ray and Saliers released their first album, “Strange Fire,” in 1987. They signed to major record label Epic in 1988 and released the commercially successful self-titled album the following year. The album, still celebrated as one of the group’s finer works, contained their first hit, “Closer to Fine,” and in 1990 they won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.
The Indigo Girls stayed with Epic until 2005, releasing several more albums and producing hits such as “Shame on You” and “Galileo,” among others. The duo moved to Hollywood Records and released “Despite Our Differences” in 2006, an album touted for its musical harmonies and delightful arrangements. The group subsequently parted ways with the label and began releasing music independently.
Wrapping activism into their music since the band formed, Ray and Saliers stay active on and off the stage. They co-founded Honor the Earth in 1991 to raise awareness and financial support for indigenous environmental justice and have spent time in Montana working with Native American groups. Over the years they have supported groups fighting for women’s rights, civil rights for same-sex couples, and the abolition of the death penalty as well as voter registration.
The Indigo Girls started this most recent tour in late February, and after a couple weeks off, hit the road again last week, performing several shows in Colorado before making their way to Billings Wednesday for their only Montana appearance on the current tour.
The Indigo Girls perform Friday, April 16, at the Babcock Theatre in Billings. Lucy Wainwright Roche, daughter of Suzzy Roche and Loudon Wainwright and a friend of the band, will open the performance, and she will also play a few songs with the Indigo Girls.
Tickets, costing $37.50 plus applicable fees, are available at Ernie November, Rimrock Mall, by phone at 1-800-514-ETIX, or online at 1111presents.com.