Catching Up With Amy Ray

3.6.2012

By Jerry Portwood

The singer-songwriter (and one-half of the Indigo Girls) explains her solo album 'Lung of Love'

Amy Ray is most known as one-half of the folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls. But in 2001 she released her first solo studio album, Stag, a stinging critique of the male-dominated music industry that included the great “Lucy Stoners” (named for the women’s group who resisted taking their husbands name in marriage) and collaborations with The Butchies and others. This past week, Ray released her fourth solo studio album, Lung of Love, on her Daemon record label. Once again, Amy Ray is letting her punk side dominate and is turning in heartfelt love songs and rockin' anthems. Her single, "Glow," deserves radio airplay—if that sort of thing still existed. 

While she was in New York City for a concert at Housing Works, we asked Ray to stop by our studio for an interview and a few acoustic songs. The multifaceted Ray was quick to explain some of the evolution that got her to this point and how working on her solo music, as opposed to the collaboration with Emily Saliers on the Indigo Girls albums, was a way to to get "this other thing out of my system."

"I wasn't sure if it was just a musical identity or if it was a message different from the Indigo Girls," she explained. "When I started I thought of it as a different collaborative experience. I was working with the Butchies. Their life was very queer and underground and informed by the burgeoning transgender movement. I realized that other world was giving me more of an articulation of things that I was feeling inside that I may not have experienced in the Indigo Girl world."

Her fans may be surprised to learn that even Amy Ray, one of the poster gals for the gay movement, with many a love song that queer kids have crooned to, even battles her own demons. As Ray explained: "When I started doing solo stuff I had access to this very personal battle that was going on inside myself around my own sort of homophobia and gender issues. And of course it showed up in the music…and become queer-identified in a lot of ways—even beyond what I was thinking myself."

Finally, in contentious election year and when it appears America is entering another time where there will be culture wars on college campuses in Main Streets around the country, Ray offers insight into why we should embrace our differences—even when it's tough.

"Some identities we love, some identities we struggle with," Ray said. "But they are all important identities that we should be thankful for because they give us pause and I think, make us question ourselves, and think about what we're doing, why we're doing it and what our agenda is.

WATCH: the full Face to Face interview with her here:

WATCH: Amy Ray perform an acoustic version of "Glow":

WATCH: Amy Ray perform her song "I Didn't":


WATCH: Amy Ray play the mandolin and sing her song, "The Rock is My Foundation":

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