After Women’s March, Indigo Girls’ Emily Saliers Looks Ahead to ‘The Next Step’ for the Resistance
By Gary Graff
Still buzzing from Saturday’s Women’s March in Washington, D.C. — as well as from the following day’s NFC Championship victory by her hometown Atlanta Falcons — the Indigo Girls’ Emily Saliers is full of resolve for action for the coming year.
“It was all so incredible,” Saliers, who took part in the Washington march with musical partner Amy Ray, tells Billboard. “Everything was so connected because there were so many marches everywhere. It was so peaceful but it was so energized. It was very powerful to feel that in the wake of what Trump has created from his followers, which is a lot of hatefulness and discord and dysfunction. When you’re down there marching you know you’re in a sea of people, but when you see the aerial shots you think, ‘My goodness, this is a movement…'”
What Saliers wants to see now, however, is more. “We have to transform that into direct action. That’s the next step,” she explains. “I think the election was a real jolt for people, and now there’s a lot of organizers on the ground taking close look at local elections, galvanizing voter populations that weren’t inspired to vote and all those kinds of things. You can’t really be too proactive. It’s just a matter of keeping our eye on the prize and being involved.”
Saliers and Ray plan to be doing just that. Their Honor Earth nonprofit is holding a board meeting soon with plans to reaffirm its support of the embattled Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota. “The battle there is truly not over yet,” Saliers says. “It’s more about protection now than preventing (the proposed pipeline), and we’re going to keep focusing on that.” The Indigos will also continue registering voters at their concerts and supporting local initiatives when appropriate. “We’re going to be led by the advice of organizers where we play. So it’s not going to be just a lot of feel-good about the movement but actually presenting people with an opportunity to do more.”
Saliers will also be voicing her political thoughts on a solo album that’s due out this spring, tentatively titled Murmuration Nation. Produced by Lyris Hung of Slanty Eyed Mama, who’s worked with Indigo Girls before, the set also features contributions by Living Colour’s Will Calhoun, Snarky Puppy’s Robert “Sput” Searight, Sarah Hall and Tedeschi Trucks Band’s Tim Lefebvre. The album is “a little more aggressive than my typical soft pop approach to things,” according to Saliers, and it certainly packs a topical punch lyrically — right up to the final song, “Fly,” which was written in the wake of the election in November.
“It’s all about this movement underneath the surface of what’s happening with the presidency. It’s all about coming together,” Saliers says. “A lot of the songs are directly about political and social issues.” Other tracks deal with her thoughts about Vietnam and religious extremism, while one was co-written with former Sugarland member Kristen Hall, a childhood friend in Georgia.
Saliers expects she and Ray will have plenty to say as well when they convene for the next Indigo Girls studio album — after they recording older favorites during April with the Colorado University Symphony Orchestra for a symphonic album that will come out later this year. “Amy and I sing a lot of songs that are about bringing people together and being involved and things like that,” Saliers notes. “That’ll definitely continue. I think we feel especially inspired in the wake of everything that’s happened since the presidential election, so that will surely be part of it.”
And, oh yeah, then there’s those Falcons, who are headed to Super Bowl XLI on Feb. 5. “I love the Falcons,” says Saliers, a football fan since she was a child. “Sometimes it’s hard to just keep your spirits about them. It’s been up and down. Right now they’re playing well together, and we’re thinking in our heads, ‘Omigod, we’re going to the Super Bowl.’ And we’re about to face the toughest team in all of football — and that’s my other favorite team. But it’s really great.”