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Many artists, musical and otherwise, use their craft to provide a visible platform for the issues they believe in. Their activism becomes interwoven with their art. The Indigo Girls have long been known for voicing their political and social views in song. Amy Ray teamed up with Emily Saliers while in high school, and soon the duo became a staple in the Atlanta music scene. In 1981, their independent music career began with a basement recording called Tuesday's Children. One thing led to another, and they signed with Epic Records in 1988. Despite almost polar-opposite styles, they met on the common ground of harmony and the love of meaningful music. Ray brought fire and earth, Saliers the wind and water. The alchemy proved magical, and their brand of folk-rock hit at just the right time alongside the successes of Tracy Chapman, Suzanne Vega, and 10,000 Maniacs.
With an extremely loyal and passionate fan base, they sold millions of albums and garnered numerous awards over the years, but that was never really the point. More importantly, they expressed themselves creatively, poetically, politically, and spiritually. Each release pushed the Indigo Girls' musical boundaries. They incorporated elements of folk, country, rock, pop, punk, and soul into their evolution, giving each album a fresh sound without losing sight of their art or themselves. To give back what was given to them, Ray founded the not-for-profit Daemon Records in 1990. Her mission was to support local artists at a grassroots level, to teach young artists how to further their own careers, and to keep the independent spirit alive, not only in the Atlanta music community, but in herself as well. Rose Polenzani, ph Balance, Three Finger Cowboy, and the Rock-A-Teens, among others, have all passed through the school of Daemon.
Inspired by the music of these bands and Southern punk/indie rock, Ray embarked on a solo adventure in 2000. Traveling around the Southeast with guitar and amp in tow, she wrote, rehearsed, and recorded Stag, which hit the streets in March 2001. The depths and intensity of her artistry and emotions are revealed in awe-inspiring performances on its ten songs, giving Ray a forum to more fully express her political stances and questions of self in a voice and style not quite suited for an Indigo Girls album. Stag was followed by the similarly themed Prom in 2005. Ray issued Live from Knoxville in 2007. Following several well-received Indigo Girls albums, she released the introspective solo offering Beauty Queen Sister in 2011, and followed it with Lung of Love in early 2012 -- both on Daemon. The latter contained guest vocal spots from Brandi Carlile and My Morning Jacket's Yim Yames. In early 2014, Ray released Goodnight Tender, her first country album. Guests on the set included Bon Iver's Justin Vernon and Susan Tedeschi.
Amy Elizabeth Ray (born April 12, 1964) 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.Kelly McCartney (1964-04-12). "Amy Ray | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved 2014-01-27.
Born in Decatur, Georgia, Amy Ray met Emily Saliers when they both attended the same high school. They began performing together and recorded a demo in 1981. After graduation, Ray and Saliers went to different colleges with Ray attending Vanderbilt University. By 1985, both women had transferred to Emory University in Atlanta and formed the Indigo Girls. In 1986, Ray graduated from Emory with majors in English and Religion.
In March 2001, Ray released her first solo album, Stag, a southern and punk rock album. The Butchies, a punk band whose members include Kaia Wilson, Melissa York, and Alison Martlew, provided support for five songs, and Joan Jett played on "Hey Castrator". In April 2005, Ray released the softer edged Prom, and in December 2006, she released Live from Knoxville. Her fourth solo album, the melodic Didn't It Feel Kinder, was released in August 2008. Lung of Love, which has more of an indie-rock sound, was released in 2012.
Her backup band for her Stag tour was The Butchies. In 2004, when she embarked on her Prom tour, she brought Les Nuby (guitar), Will Lochamy (drums), and Jody Bleyle (bass). Tara Jane O'Neil replaced Bleyle when she began maternity leave in October. Ray's backup band for her 2012 Lung of Love tour was The Butchies. Jenn Stone, former keyboard player for Kesha, also performed on the tour.
Ray currently lives in the foothills of North Georgia. She and her partner, Carrie Schrader, have a daughter, Ozilline Graydon.Malkin, John (2005). Sounds of freedom: musicians on spirituality & social change. Parallax. p. 48. ISBN 978-1-888375-47-3. Baca, Ricardo (3 March 2012). "Amy Ray: An Indigo Girl gone solo — but only temporarily". The Denver Post. Rodman, Sarah (13 April 2012). "Amy Ray’s 5 top things about touring as a solo girl". The Boston Globe. Ruggieri, Melissa (10 January 2014). "Amy Ray talks new country album, new baby and Indigo Girls". Access Atlanta.
Side projectsKaia Wilson and Amy Ray on stage
In addition to the Indigo Girls and her work as a solo artist, Ray also runs an independent record label, Daemon Records, which she founded in 1990 and which is based in Decatur, Georgia. Some bands signed to Daemon include Girlyman, Magnapop, Nineteen Forty-Five, Michelle Malone, Three Finger Cowboy, Danielle Howle and the Tantrums, Gerard McHugh, New Mongrels, Grady Cousins, The Oblivious, Snow Machine, Utah Phillips and Rose Polenzani.
In her solo life, she most often collaborates with The Butchies, a punk band featuring drummer, Melissa York and vocalist/guitarist Kaia Wilson. She has contributed the live track "Lucy Stoners" on Calling All Kings & Queens (2001) and the Mr. Lady Records sampler album as well as a live recording of "On Your Honor" on a compilation for Home Alive.
Ray is also an activist involved in multiple political and social causes, including gay rights, low-power broadcasting, women's rights, indigenous struggles, gun control, environmental protection and the anti-death penalty movement among others. She has made several trips to Chiapas, Mexico to support the Zapatista Army of National Liberation.
In 1993, she and Emily Saliers co-founded Honor the Earth with Winona LaDuke. Honor the Earth's mission is "to create awareness and support for Native [American] environmental issues and to develop needed financial and political resources for the survival of sustainable Native [American] communities. Honor the Earth develops these resources by using music, the arts, the media, and indigenous wisdom to ask people to recognize our joint dependency on the Earth and be a voice for those not heard."
Ray was also a judge for the 3rd and 11th Annual Independent Music Awards to support independent artists' careers.Caramanica, Jon (17 June 2009). "Where the Outdoors Are Humming With Melodies and Messages". New York Times. Carson, Tisa Lewis, Susan Maxine Shaw, Mina Julia (2004). Girls rock!: fifty years of women making music. UP of Kentucky. p. 144. ISBN 978-0-8131-2310-3. "Campaigns". Honor the Earth. Retrieved 2014-01-27. "3rd Annual IMA Judges". Independent Music Awards. Retrieved on 4 Sept. 2013. "11th Annual IMA Judges. Independent Music Awards. Retrieved on 4 Sept. 2013.