December 4, 2000
Sailers, Ray make
sure their souls
get it right
By Eric Rangu email@example.com
Given the great deal of respect they receive on campus, the Indigo Girls
could probably drop by, sing a couple commercial jingles and be rewarded
with a standing ovation.
Last Tuesday, they did much, much better than that.
Playing to crowd of 4,000 at the P.E. Center, the Indigo Girlsindividually
known as Amy Ray and Emily Salierspresented a perfect mix of music
and discussion as part of Emorys Year of Reconciliation.
Anyone in the crowd expecting a laid-back, sedate evening was in for
a surprise. Just seconds after taking the stage, Ray and Saliers grabbed
their guitars and dove into the music, opening their seven-song, 45-minute
set with one of their most popular songs, 1992s Galileo.
People sat politely in their seats to start the night, but by the third
song, Get Out the Map, several dozen, mostly students, had sneaked
into the aisles to sway and dance.
After a rousing rendition of their first hit, Closer To Fine,
Ray and Saliers took their seats and spent the second half of their appearance
answering questions about their music, their activism and their experiences
as Emory students (Ray graduated from Emory College in 1985, and Saliers
Actually, before taking any questions, Ray discussed one of the many
charities she and Saliers supportHonor the Earth. The environmental
organization deals primarily with Native American issues and also addresses
concerns about the dumping of nuclear and toxic waste and explores energy
and waste disposal alternatives.
During the fall, Indigo Girls played several shows promoting the cause,
and they appeared at Emory in exchange for a donation by the Reconciliation
committee to Honor the Earth.
Not surprisingly, another topic of discussion was the personal experience
of dealing with ones sexual orientationboth Ray and Saliers
Saliers said she was just starting to come out when she graduated from
Emory in 1986, but did not experience a negative reaction.
Ray said she was outalthough not to everyoneas a freshman
at Vanderbilt (she transferred to Emory for her sophomore year). She admitted
seeing a lot of negativity there, adding that things are much different
Its so much more open now, I cant even describe to
you the difference, Ray said. We wouldnt even be having
this discussion when I was at Emory.
Both Ray and Saliers lauded their alma mater for its progressive stance
regarding sexual orientation. But, in general, they said more must be
accomplished in the area of gay rights.
I dont care if youre gay or not, Ray said. Embrace
the idea of different types of sexuality. Its good to be whoever
Other wide-ranging elements of the discussion included artistic outlets
on campus (we played in bars, Saliers quipped), religious
imagery in their songs, an increasing amount of sexual openness in their
songs, musical inspirations and where each of them lived while they were
on campus (Ray, expressing a bit of sadness, said she lived in the dearly
departed, University Apartments complex, the same place her parents lived
when they were Emory students).
Perhaps the most personal confession came from Saliers, who discussed
her relationship with the church (her father, Don, is an Emory theology
professor). While she said her church experience was positive, she did
not agree with many church positions (not only Methodist, but other faiths),
such as the mandate that gays cannot be ordained ministers. She also credited
many people inside church hierarchies who are trying to make reforms from
She also addressed the issue in song, performing the religion-themed
Philosophy of Loss, a hidden track on the Indigo Girls latest
CD Come On Now Social. It was the only solo of the night.
To close out the evening, the duo played one more song, Least Complicated,
which, as many encores do, turned into a crowd sing-a-long.
Tickets to the show, which were free, were plentiful, but they disappeared
quickly. The faculty/staff allotment of 740 tickets was gone in two days.
Tickets for undergraduate and graduate students, which numbered 1,430
and 1,380, respectively, were snatched up in two and a half days. Oxford
College and Emory alumni also received ticket allotments. At the door,
the roughly 300 remaining tickets were handed out.
Don Saliers, Parker Professor of Theology, was one of four speakers who
briefly took the stage before the show. The last time he and his daughter
shared a stage at Emory, he said, was for her graduation.
Not only was Saliers in attendance as a parent, but he came as a respectful and loyal fan, too. To make great music is one thing, he said. But to weave conviction and passion into their music that is rare. In fact, its Closer To Fine, Id say.