A Deeper Color of Indigo

by | Jan 8, 2016 | Features, Music

Many people know the voices of Amy Ray and Emily Saliers’s as front-artists in the traditional folk-rock band, Indigo Girls. While many know their music, they may not be aware the two musicians are philanthropists making a difference in the world through activism and song.  A deeper shade of Indigo was revealed by Amy as she was traveling to Virginia Beach on her way to a show.
   Amy explains, “There were a number of influences on me when I was growing up. Both of us had Ellis Lloyd, who encouraged and gave us an appreciation for words while helping develop our sense of language. That appreciation really belongs to him since he gave us so much.”   While in high school, English teacher Ellis Lloyd had been the instrument for both Amy and Emily, to pursue their careers as musicians. Lloyd had them write melodic trills and strong ballads as part of their lessons encouraging them to explore their gift of music. Both of them have boundless admiration for their teacher who launched their appetite for words and a long career.
   Aside from Lloyd influencing their career, they received another gift.  They were both taught to give back to their communities from their parents who guided them always to help their neighbors. The pair started raising money during their shows for different causes such as soup kitchens, women’s issues, Hurricane Katrina, nuclear waste, racism, crime and people suffering from AIDS. Today, their main focus is on sustainable living and the environment.
   “We started working on Green Peace where we met Winona Duke, who was a Native American activist during an “Earth Day” show in Boston. She moved us by the environmental work she did, so we decided to throw all our environmental work into the arena of Native American activism. We wanted to fund these groups because they were shifting policy with legislation and the energy sector that would affect everyone. So we started “Honor the Earth” to sponsor them, which is still around today.” They continue helping many people throughout the country including South Florida.
   “We worked with the Independent Seminole Nation in South Florida when the housing codes were not being met, the residents living in “Chickees” needed help to live in more traditional ways. We fought for social sustainability and better-living conditions. You don’t see all that gets done within the Indian communities especially on the East Coast.”
   Amy remarks on the way everything fits. “It all ties together for us in some weird way but it’s a big palette of left wing stuff. We try to have our music and our activism, letting people know they’re coming together; they can afford it no matter where they stand on things. We just want people to be informed, and knowledge is good to have.”
   Her knowledge and voice were met with a chuckle when asked what type of advice she would give to our next president.  Amy’s response “Obviously I think this is the way many people feel; we’re just too polarized.” Amy takes a serious tone “I feel very strongly that it takes every different perspective to solve a problem.  I don’t think you can isolate the people you work with who agree only with you; you have to find a way to build community within Congress. That’s a weird connection because community and Congress don’t go together. There needs to be less polarization and less reacting all the time.  We need to look at the root of the problems. It’s hard to be a world leader; I wish the next president would surround him or herself with elders like Jimmy Carter and the Dali Llama.  People that come from different cultures who are super wise, super “A” political who would help in the decision process.”
   She gives the example of current events like gun control. “The gun situation that’s happening right now. We’re in dire need of something to change.  I just wish people could talk and not be so threatened by each other. There’s no trust anymore. Everything we’re deciding is based on fear. I missed the days when people were respected, and gun control is a serious issue that needs to change.”
   Another unique perspective is Amy’s outlook on community, her ideology is based on experiences obtained during her travels to other countries. “Most people want to get along in their day by going to work, spending time with friends, have a good meal and be a part of a community, no matter where they live. We’re all kind of the same and want things to be peaceful. We just want to be who we are, but there’re people who have to live in places like Syria, or Nigeria where there’s constant worry about violence. Universally, you can find nice people everywhere. It makes me sad that people live in such fear.”
   World-traveled, Amy points out another commonality of music that everyone shares.  United with people from all cultures, she tells of her observation “We went to Cuba, year’s back for cultural exchange. The music being played in the streets was of a whole other realm. It’s so incredible, complex and difficult., and we’re just kind of playing our little guitars, and our little songs, (pause) it made me realize we’re from such different worlds. But once the music starts and everybody starts dancing, you don’t need language anymore!”
   Both women’s directive, spreading strong messages by awareness for peace and change is a patter of music from a drum that beats loudly with purpose. Amy Ray is a woman who’s shown the world that her inspiration, growth in music and her ability to see past her personal genre, has helped thousands of deserving hearts.  By gripping a strong presence, with music and their messages, she and Emily will continue to bless the communities, serving people and making our world a better place.

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    By: Evelyn Grzadzinski

    Eve Grzadzinski is a copywriter, social media specialist and the owner of Sugar Bee Copy LLC. Eve had a successful long term film career where she produced and directed over fifty commercials for television. In her spare time, she enjoys producing music video, painting and spending time with her family.

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