Welcome back, Melissa!

Etheridge Back on Track
Rocker returns with hits package, MTV special and ABC sitcom in the works
Officially cancer-free for the first time since she was diagnosed last fall, Melissa Etheridge has plunged back into her career — with a greatest-hits album including four new songs; a sitcom she’s developing for ABC; a new breast-cancer charity single; and an appearance at a UCLA biology class for an MTV special.
“I’m feeling great — wonderful and just fine,” says Etheridge. “My energy is back.”
Etheridge’s greatest-hits collection, The Road Less Traveled, debuted at Number Fourteen on the Billboard charts last week. The seventeen-song retrospective includes smash hits (“Come to My Window,” “Bring Me Some Water”) and four new recordings: her Grammy duet with Joss Stone on “Piece of My Heart,” from earlier this year; a raucous cover of Tom Petty’s “Refugee”; and her own “This Is Not Goodbye” and the hard-rocking breast-cancer-awareness anthem “I Run for Life” (which is also available on iTunes, with the proceeds going to breast-cancer-research charities).
“My writing comes from what I feel and know and think and dream, and cancer is now a part of that,” she says. “I have a new perspective and focus on life — so all that’s going to come into my music.”
Earlier this month, for MTVU’s Stand-In, Etheridge showed up unannounced at a UCLA cancer-biology class to answer questions about being diagnosed with breast cancer and overcoming it with chemotherapy so painful that it hurt her ears to listen to music. “I’ve been a rock star since you were very young, but I’ve never encountered anything as powerful as cancer,” she said during her hour with the class. “At this point, shoot — everyone’s asked me everything,” she tells Rolling Stone magazine. “It’s good for me to process this with people.”
In 2006, Etheridge hopes to release an album of new material — she has a notebook full of songs — and possibly tour during the summer. She’s also developing an ABC sitcom with That ’70s Show producer Linda Wallem that could debut next spring. “It’s just a blue-girl-in-a-red-state sort of story,” Etheridge says. The show, which she’ll star in, is about what the singer’s life might be like had she stayed in her hometown of Leavenworth, Kansas, and worked as a music teacher.
Her practical reason for the TV show is to have a stable gig (with summers off for touring) so she can stay home most of the year with her family. But there’s another reason: “I figure I really have to balance out the Hilary Duffs and the Lindsay Lohans,” she says. “They came over and played in my field. I have to play in theirs.”