Indigo Girls

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Indigo Girls
Indigo Girls, Park West, Chicago, IL 05-09-18.jpg
Indigo Girls at Park West in Chicago, September 18, 2005. (left to right: Amy Ray and Emily Saliers)
Background information
Origin Atlanta, Georgia, United States
Years active1985–present
LabelsIndigo, Epic, Legacy, Columbia, Hollywood, IG Recordings/Vanguard
Associated acts Joan Baez, Michael Stipe, R.E.M., Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ferron, disappear fear, Brandi Carlile, P!nk
Members Amy Ray
Emily Saliers

Indigo Girls are a folk rock music duo from Atlanta, Georgia, consisting of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers. The two met in elementary school and began performing together as high school students in Decatur, Georgia, part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. They started performing with the name Indigo Girls as students at Emory University, performing weekly at The Dugout, a bar in Emory Village.

Folk rock is a hybrid music genre combining elements of folk music and rock music, which arose in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom in the mid-1960s. In the U.S., folk rock emerged from the folk music revival and the influence that the Beatles and other British Invasion bands had on members of that movement. Performers such as Bob Dylan and the Byrds—several of whose members had earlier played in folk ensembles—attempted to blend the sounds of rock with their preexisting folk repertoire, adopting the use of electric instrumentation and drums in a way previously discouraged in the U.S. folk community. The term "folk rock" was initially used in the U.S. music press in June 1965 to describe the Byrds' music.

Amy Ray Musician, singer-songwriter, record producer

Amy Elizabeth Ray is an American singer-songwriter and member of the contemporary folk duo Indigo Girls. She also pursues a solo career and has released six albums under her own name, and founded a record company, Daemon Records.

Emily Saliers singer-songwriter, restaurateur

Emily Ann Saliers is an American singer-songwriter and member of the musical duo Indigo Girls. Saliers plays lead guitar as well as banjo, piano, mandolin, ukulele, bouzouki and many other instruments.


They released a self-produced, full-length record album entitled Strange Fire in 1987 and contracted with a major record company in 1988. After releasing nine albums with major record labels from 1987 through 2007, they have now resumed self-producing albums with their own IG Recordings company.

<i>Strange Fire</i> 1987 studio album by Indigo Girls

Strange Fire is the first studio album by folk rock duo Indigo Girls. It was originally released independently on Indigo Records in Canada with eleven tracks. Epic Records signed the duo in 1988, and after their eponymous second album became a commercial success in early 1989, Epic re-released this album in the United States with a different running order, two tracks removed, and a new track added.

Outside of working on Indigo Girls–related projects, Ray has released solo albums and founded a non profit organization that promotes independent musicians, while Saliers is an entrepreneur in the restaurant industry as well as a professional author; she also collaborates with her father, Don Saliers, in performing for special groups and causes. Saliers and Ray are both lesbians and are active in political and environmental causes.

Restaurant Single establishment which prepares and serves food

A restaurant, or an eatery, is a business which prepares and serves food and drinks to customers in exchange for money. Meals are generally served and eaten on the premises, but many restaurants also offer take-out and food delivery services. Restaurants vary greatly in appearance and offerings, including a wide variety of cuisines and service models ranging from inexpensive fast food restaurants and cafeterias, to mid-priced family restaurants, to high-priced luxury establishments.

An author is the creator or originator of any written work such as a book or play, and is also considered a writer. More broadly defined, an author is "the person who originated or gave existence to anything" and whose authorship determines responsibility for what was created.

Don E. Saliers is an American theologian specializing in homiletics and liturgics. He was the William R. Cannon Distinguished Professor of Theology and Worship at the Candler School of Theology of Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia. Although he retired from Candler in 2007, Professor Saliers returned to Candler as Theologian-in-Residence in 2015.

Recording and touring

Early years

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers first met and got to know each other as students at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in DeKalb County, Georgia, just outside Decatur, Georgia, [1] but were not close friends because Saliers was a grade older than Ray. While attending Shamrock High School (now Druid Hills Middle School), they became better acquainted, and started performing together, first as "The B-Band" and then as "Saliers and Ray".

DeKalb County, Georgia County in the United States

DeKalb County is a county in the U.S. state of Georgia. As of the 2010 census, the population was 691,893, making it Georgia's fourth-most populous county. Its county seat is Decatur.

Decatur, Georgia City in Georgia, United States

Decatur is a city in, and the county seat of, DeKalb County, Georgia, which is part of the Atlanta metropolitan area. With a population of 20,148 in the 2013 census, the municipality is sometimes assumed to be larger since multiple ZIP Codes in unincorporated DeKalb County bear Decatur as the address. The city is served by three MARTA rail stations. The city is located approximately 5 miles northeast of downtown Atlanta and shares its western border with both the city of Atlanta and unincorporated DeKalb County. The Druid Hills neighborhood is to the northwest of Decatur.

Saliers graduated and began attending Tulane University in Louisiana. A year later, Ray graduated high school and began attending Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. Homesick, both returned to Georgia and transferred to Emory University in Atlanta (where Saliers' father was a professor [2] ).

Tulane University Private university in New Orleans, Louisiana

Tulane University is a private research university in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was founded as a public medical college in 1834 and became a comprehensive university in 1847. The institution was made private under the endowments of Paul Tulane and Josephine Louise Newcomb in 1884. Tulane is the 9th oldest private university in the Association of American Universities, which consists of major research universities in the United States and Canada. The Tulane University Law School and Tulane University Medical School are considered the 12th oldest and 15th oldest law and medical schools, respectively, in the United States.

Vanderbilt University Private research university in Nashville, Tennessee, United States

Vanderbilt University is a private research university in Nashville, Tennessee. Founded in 1873, it was named in honor of New York shipping and rail magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt, who provided the school its initial $1-million endowment despite having never been to the South. Vanderbilt hoped that his gift and the greater work of the university would help to heal the sectional wounds inflicted by the Civil War.

Emory University private research university in Druid Hills, Georgia, United States

Emory University is a private research university in Atlanta, in the U.S. state of Georgia. The university was founded as Emory College in 1836 in Oxford, Georgia, by the Methodist Episcopal Church and was named in honor of Methodist bishop John Emory. In 1915, Emory College moved to its present location in Druid Hills and was rechartered as Emory University. Emory maintained a presence in Oxford that eventually became Oxford College, a residential liberal arts college for the first two years of the Emory baccalaureate degree. The university is the second-oldest private institution of higher education in Georgia and among the fifty oldest private universities in the United States.

After forming their duo in college, the Indigo Girls played small clubs in the Emory Village district of Druid Hills, Georgia. Emory Village.JPG
After forming their duo in college, the Indigo Girls played small clubs in the Emory Village district of Druid Hills, Georgia.

By 1985 they had begun performing together again, this time as the Indigo Girls. Saliers stated in a March 2007 National Public Radio Talk of the Nation interview, "we needed a name and we went through the dictionary looking for words that struck us and indigo was one." [3]

<i>Talk of the Nation</i> American radio program

Talk of the Nation (TOTN) is an American talk radio program based in Washington D.C., produced by National Public Radio (NPR) that was broadcast nationally from 2 to 4 p.m. Eastern Time. It focused on current events and controversial issues.

Their first release in 1985 was a seven-inch single named "Crazy Game", with the B-side "Everybody's Waiting (for Someone to Come Home)". That same year, the Indigo Girls released a six-track Extended play album named "Indigo Girls", and in 1987 released their first full-length album, Strange Fire , recorded at John Keane Studio in Athens, Georgia, and including "Crazy Game". With this release, they secured the services of Russell Carter, who remains their manager to the present; they had first approached him when the EP album was released, but he told them their songs were "immature" and they were not likely to get a record deal. Strange Fire apparently changed his opinion.[ citation needed ]

Epic Records (1988–2006)

The success of 10,000 Maniacs, Tracy Chapman, and Suzanne Vega encouraged Epic Records company to enlist other folk-based female singer-songwriters; Epic signed the duo in 1988. Their first major-label release, also named Indigo Girls , which scored #22 on the album chart, included a new version of "Land of Canaan", which was also on their 1985 EP album and on Strange Fire. Also on the self-titled release was their first hit "Closer To Fine" (a collaboration with Irish band Hothouse Flowers), which scored #52 on the popular music chart and #26 on the modern rock chart. They even managed one week on the mainstream rock album-oriented rock music chart at #48. [4] In 1990, they won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Folk Album. They were also nominated for Best New Artist (but lost to Milli Vanilli who eventually had that award revoked).

Their second album, Nomads Indians Saints , went gold in December 1991 and included the hit song "Hammer and a Nail", a #12 modern rock music track; it was not as successful as their first, which was certified platinum at about the same time. The Indigo Girls followed it with the live Back on the Bus, Y'all and 1992's album Rites of Passage , featuring the song "Galileo", the duo's first top 10 modern rock music track (#10). During the accompanying tour in December, they invited on a few dates Siouxsie Sioux of Siouxsie and the Banshees as special guest to sing a couple of songs with them. [5] They then recorded Swamp Ophelia in 1994, which went platinum in September 1996, and charted at #9 on the Billboard 200 album chart.

In 1995, the Indigo Girls released a live, double CD, 1200 Curfews . Shaming of the Sun was released in 1997 followed by Come on Now Social in 1999. Shaming of the Sun debuted at number seven on the Billboard charts, driven by the duo's contribution to the Lilith Fair music festival tour. The track "Shame on You" received more airplay on adult alternative, top 40 and adult top 40 radio stations than any of their previous singles, although this seemed to be a peak in their crossover success.

Retrospective, a compilation album with two new tracks, was released in 2000 and Become You followed two years later. Their last Epic studio album was All That We Let In , released in 2004 with an accompanying tour. On June 14, 2005, they released Rarities, a collection of B-sides and rare tracks partially decided by fans' input, which fulfilled the album count obligation for their contract with Epic.

Hollywood Records (2006–07)

Indigo Girls performing in 2005. Indigo Girls 2005 01.jpg
Indigo Girls performing in 2005.

After departing Epic, the Indigo Girls signed a five-record deal with Hollywood Records. Their first (and only) Hollywood album, Despite Our Differences , produced by Mitchell Froom, was released on September 19, 2006. John Metzger from MusicBox Online described Despite our Differences as "the most infectious, pop-infused set that the duo ever has managed to concoct.[ citation needed ] In fact, its melodies, harmonies, and arrangements are so ingratiating that the album carries the weight of an instant classic." Thom Jurek from AllMusic wrote: "part of an emotional journey as complete as can be. More relevant than anyone dared expect. It's accessible and moving and true. It's their own brand of rock & roll, hewn from over the years, that bears a signature that is now indelible. A moving, and utterly poetic offering."[ citation needed ]

The Indigo Girls contract was terminated by Hollywood Records during their 2007 tour to support the album.[ citation needed ]

Independent work (2007–present)

Performing at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018 Indigo Girls Fillmore.jpg
Performing at The Fillmore in Charlotte, North Carolina in 2018

Following their break with Hollywood Records, the Indigo Girls announced their next record would be released independently. Poseidon and the Bitter Bug was released on March 24, 2009, from IG Recordings, the Indigo Girls' label, and distributed through Vanguard Records. This album is their first fully independent release since 1987's Strange Fire, and their first two-CD set since 1995's live album 1200 Curfews; the first disc has the 10 tracks accompanied by a backing band, and the second includes the same 10 songs with only Ray and Saliers on vocals and acoustic guitars, and an additional track. On June 29, 2010 Indigo Girls' second full-length live album, Staring Down the Brilliant Dream, was released on IG Recordings/Vanguard Records. This was followed on October 12, 2010 with their first holiday album Holly Happy Days. Indigo Girls' thirteenth studio album, Beauty Queen Sister , was released on October 4, 2011, and their fourteenth studio album, One Lost Day , was released on June 2, 2015 (both on IG Recordings/Vanguard Records). Beginning in 2017, the Indigo Girls have toured the United States performing their music arranged for symphony orchestra. After more than fifty performances, in 2018 they released a Iive double album entitled "Indigo Girls Live with the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra".


Ray and Saliers do not ordinarily collaborate in writing songs. They write separately and work out the arrangements together. There are a few exceptions, mostly unreleased songs from their early, pre-Epic days: "I Don't Know Your Name" and "If You Live Like That." "Blood Quantum," which appears on Honor: A Benefit for the Honor the Earth Campaign featured Ray's verses and chorus and Saliers's bridge. Finally, "I'll Give You My Skin," which appears both on Tame Yourself (a benefit album for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and on the Indigo Girls release Rarities, is a collaborative work by Ray, Saliers, and Michael Stipe which is doubly rare, as Saliers and Ray usually write their songs without outside collaborators.

Touring band

The Indigo Girls have toured as a duo and with a band. In 1990, they toured with Atlanta band the Ellen James Society backing them; they have also toured with side players, with one distinct group from 1991 to 1998, a second from 1999 to 2006, and a third from 2012 onwards.

First touring band
Second touring band
Third touring band

Solo projects

In 1990, Ray founded Daemon Records, which has signed Magnapop, Ellen James Society, New Mongrels, Kristen Hall, Rose Polenzani, Girlyman, Athens Boys Choir, and James Hall among others.

Ray has put out six solo albums, entitled Stag , Prom , Live from Knoxville , Didn't It Feel Kinder , Amy Ray: Live MVP , Lung of Love and Goodnight Tender through Daemon. She has toured with both The Butchies and her band The Volunteers.

Saliers also released a solo album, Murmuration Nation, in 2017, and is co-owner of Watershed Restaurant [6] in Decatur, Georgia, along with two of her friends. Saliers was an initial investor in the Flying Biscuit Cafe [7] in Atlanta, Georgia. In 2005, Saliers and her father, Don Saliers, a theology professor at Candler School of Theology at Emory University, released the book A Song to Sing, a Life to Live: Reflections on Music as Spiritual Practice. They promoted the release of the book together including several days of speaking and performing together at the Washington National Cathedral College in Washington D.C.

Appearances in other media

Ray and Saliers appeared in the latter half of the feature film Boys on the Side , playing short excerpts from their songs "Joking" and "Southland in the Springtime," as well as singing "Feliz Cumpleaños" ("Happy Birthday" in Spanish) with the gathered group of friends during the birthday cake scene, and standing on the far side of several shots over the next few scenes. Neither had any spoken lines. The duo also appear in the 2006 documentary Wordplay , where they discuss their reaction to appearing in a New York Times crossword puzzle and then begin to solve one together.

Ray and Saliers performed onstage in the 1994 revival of Jesus Christ Superstar in Atlanta, titled Jesus Christ Superstar: A Resurrection. Ray played the role of Jesus and Saliers played the role of Mary Magdalene. They later reprised their roles in stagings of the musical in Austin, at the South by Southwest (SXSW) festival, and in Seattle.

They made several cameo appearances on the Ellen DeGeneres sitcom Ellen . In the episode "Womyn Fest" Ellen and her friends are attending a feminist music festival and catch the end of a performance by the Indigo Girls.

They are mentioned multiple times in the 1995 Stephen King novel Rose Madder as well as being mentioned in TV shows Buffy the Vampire Slayer , Will and Grace , South Park , 30 Rock , The Office , Squidbillies , The Big Bang Theory , Saturday Night Live , and Tig Notaro's special Happy To Be Here.

In the 1996 slasher film "Scream" a poster of the Indigo Girls can be seen on Neve Campbell's character, Sydney Prescott, bedroom wall.

Personal lives

Both Ray and Saliers have long identified themselves as lesbians. [8] Because of their engagements for LGBT rights they are regarded as icons of the movement. [9] [10] [11]

Amy Ray currently lives in the foothills of North Georgia. She and her wife, Carrie Schrader, have a daughter, Ozilline Graydon. [12]

Saliers married her longtime girlfriend, [13] former Indigo Girls tour manager Tristin Chipman, at New York City Hall [14] in 2013. [15] Chipman, a Canadian, is from Calgary, "but she spent most of her adult life in Toronto," according to Saliers between songs when performing onstage in Vancouver in 2013. [15] The couple already had a daughter, Cleo, born in February of that year. [16] [15]

Political activism

The Indigo Girls have been politically active. They have championed the causes and held benefit concerts for the environment, gay rights, the rights of Native Americans, and the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty. For many years they incorporated a recycling and public outreach program into their road tours by including Greenpeace representative Stephanie Fairbanks in their road crew. They helped Winona LaDuke establish Honor the Earth, an organization dedicated to creating support and education for native environmental issues. After performing on the activist-oriented Spitfire Tour in 1999, Ray and Saliers joined forces with The Spitfire Agency to develop the Honor The Earth Tour, which visits colleges and Native communities, and raises money for their non profit of the same name. Ray and Saliers have also appeared at the annual SOA Watch rallies, the March for Women's Lives, and several other rallies and protests.

In 2006 the Indigo Girls were featured in artist Pink's album I'm Not Dead in the song "Dear Mr. President", which Pink says [17] is a political confrontation with George W. Bush about war, poverty, LGBT rights, abortion rights, and the No Child Left Behind Act. Returning the favor, Pink performed on the Indigo Girls' "Rock and Roll Heaven's Gate," which is about, among other things, sexism and heterosexism in the music industry.

In June 2007 the Indigo Girls were part of the multi-artist True Colors Tour 2007, [18] on the tour's Las Vegas stop which benefited the Human Rights Campaign and other organizations that provide support to the LGBT community. The Indigo Girls performed again on the True Colors Tour 2008.

In April 2013, in response to criticism from transgender activists, the Indigo Girls issued a statement that they would play at the Michigan Womyn's Music Festival, but would protest the festival's "womyn-born womyn" policy from the stage. [19]

In November 2017, the Indigo Girls were nominated to Out magazine's "OUT100" for 2017 in recognition of their work and their visibility. [20]

The Indigo Girls are also members of the Canadian charity Artists Against Racism and have worked with them on awareness campaigns. [21]


Studio albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
US Rock
US Folk
US Indie
Indigo Girls (85EP)
  • Release date: 1985
  • Label: Dragon Path Music, Producers: Frank French & Kristen Hall
Strange Fire
  • Release date: May 1, 1987
  • Label: Indigo Records, Epic Records
Indigo Girls 2264
  • US: 2× Platinum [28]
Nomads Indians Saints 43
Rites of Passage 21
Swamp Ophelia 95381
Shaming of the Sun 78381
Come on Now Social 34
Become You 30
All That We Let In 35
Despite Our Differences 4716
Poseidon and the Bitter Bug 2911
Holly Happy Days 420
Beauty Queen Sister 361429
One Lost Day 63727
"—" denotes releases that did not chart

Live albums

TitleDetailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
US Rock
US Folk
US Indie
Back on the Bus, Y'all (EP)
  • Release date: June 4, 1991
  • Label: Indigo Records, Epic Records
1200 Curfews 40
Staring Down the Brilliant Dream 11934218
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


TitleDetailsPeak chart positions
4.5: The Best of the Indigo Girls [30] 8143
Retrospective [31] 128
Rarities 159
Playlist: The Very Best of Indigo Girls [32]
The Essential Indigo Girls [33]
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


YearTitleChart positionsAlbum
Top 40
[35] [36]
1985"Crazy Game"Non-album single
1989"Closer to Fine"5226485357Indigo Girls
1990"Hammer and Nail"12Nomads Indians Saints
1992"Galileo"8910Rites of Passage
1994"Least Complicated"2898Swamp Ophelia
"I Don't Wanna Talk About It" Philadelphia soundtrack
1995"Power of Two"Swamp Ophelia
1997"Shame on You"4215Shaming of the Sun
"Get Out the Map"
1998"Shed Your Skin"36
1999"Peace Tonight"40Come on Now Social
2006"Dear Mr. President" (with Pink)1011008855 [37] 53 I'm Not Dead

Other contributions

Live recording circulation

Indigo Girls allow fans to tape their shows, [38] and appropriately gathered recordings can be traded, obtained for free from a number of sources.

Awards and nominations

Pell Awards [39]

YearNominee / workAwardResult
2019Indigo GirlsPell Award for Lifetime Achievement in the ArtsWon

GLAAD Media Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
2003 Become You Outstanding Music AlbumNominated

Grammy Awards

YearNominee / workAwardResult
1990 Themselves Best New Artist Nominated
Indigo Girls Best Contemporary Folk Recording Won
1991 "Hammer and a Nail"Nominated
1992 Back on the Bus, Y'all Best Contemporary Folk Album Nominated
1993 Rites of Passage Nominated
1995 Swamp Ophelia Nominated
1998 Shaming of the Sun Nominated

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