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Indigo Girls

While they came into prominence as part of the late-'80s folky singer/songwriter revival, the Indigo Girls had staying power where other artists from the same era quickly faded. Their two-women-with-guitars formula may not have seemed very revolutionary on paper, but the combination of two distinct personalities and songwriting styles provided tension and an interesting balance. Emily Saliers, hailing from the more traditional Joni Mitchell school, boasted a gentler sound, was more complex musically, and leaned toward the abstract and spiritual. Meanwhile, Amy Ray drew heavily from the singer/songwriter aspects of punk rock, citing influences such as the Jam, the Pretenders, and Hüsker Dü for her more abrasive and direct approach. Throughout two decades of music, they managed to garner respectable mainstream success and maintain their rabid core following.

Amy Ray and Emily Saliers first took the name Indigo Girls while living in Atlanta in 1985, although they had been performing together since the early '80s, at times under the name "the B-Band." In 1986, they recorded an independent self-titled EP and followed in 1987 with the full-length Strange Fire -- only 7,000 copies were pressed, however, and very little interest was generated. Things changed quickly in 1988 when, in the wake of the success of Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman, and 10,000 Maniacs, the duo seemed to fit nicely into "the next big thing." Appropriately, Epic Records was quick to sign them.

Indigo Girls, released in 1989, was an excellent national debut. A guest vocal by R.E.M.'s Michael Stipe ("Kid Fears") gave them initial college radio credibility, and the single "Closer to Fine" was a hit -- buoyed by those strengths, the album eventually broke the Top 30 and earned a Grammy for Best Folk Recording that year. By the end of 1991, it achieved platinum sales. Strange Fire was reissued in the fall, with a cover of "Get Together" replacing one of the original tracks. The follow-up, 1990's Nomads Indians Saints, didn't fare quite as well. Although it was nominated for a Grammy and eventually reached gold status, the material wasn't nearly as strong. A live EP, Back on the Bus, Y'All, was released in 1991 while the women regrouped; it, too, was certified gold and garnered a Grammy nomination.

In spring of 1992, the Indigo Girls made a comeback with Rites of Passage, which debuted at number 22 and went platinum by the year's end. The album showed an increasing diversity and some of their strongest songs to date. Almost exactly two years later, Swamp Ophelia was released and entered the charts at number nine; it went gold by the end of the year. A double live album, 1200 Curfews, was released in 1995 and the much awaited follow-up to Swamp Ophelia, Shaming of the Sun, followed in 1997. The duo's next effort, Come on Now Social, appeared two years later.

Released in 2002, Become You was stripped down in comparison to the orchestration of the Girls' more recent work, and 2004's All That We Let In was generally regarded as their strongest album in years. A rarities set appeared the following year, marking Saliers and Ray's 20-year anniversary as Indigo Girls, as well as their last release on the Epic roster. Shortly thereafter, Saliers and Ray signed a five-album deal with Hollywood Records, although the songwriters only released one record -- the Mitchell Froom-produced Despite Our Differences, issued in 2006 -- before Hollywood dropped them from its roster. The Indigo Girls took to their website to assure fans that the band would move onward, and 2009's Poseidon and the Bitter Bug marked their first independent release in over 20 years. Released in 2010, the double-disc Staring Down the Brilliant Dream featured live performances from shows between 2006 and 2009, and the duo wrapped up the year by releasing a holiday-themed bluegrass album, Holly Happy Days. Issued in 2011, Beauty Queen Sister, the Indigo Girls’ 14th studio album and the fourth to be released on their own IG Recordings imprint for Vanguard Records, reunited them with producer Peter Collins, who helmed the duo’s earlier albums Rites of Passage and Swamp Ophelia. ~ Chris Woodstra, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Live At The Austin City Limits Music Festival 2007

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Track List: Making Promises (Single)

Comments

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How long till my soul gets it right?
Can any human being ever reach that kind of light?...
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Had the great pleasure of their experience at the Little Five-Points Pub in Atlanta before they became known
SWB
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My ex introduced this song to me, Cami thank you for that.. It warms my heart when I hear it:) smile your beautiful!
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Love when they pop up always like home
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bayareaarabi a n s
Some of my fondest memories are sitting around a campfire singing their songs. I found my place in the world through the Indigo Girls in the late 80's... A life touched is more valuable than any platinum album and mine most certainly was in a profound way. Thank you Emily and Amy for your persistance, passion, and voice!
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I've enjoyed their music ever since I was eleven and I got to see you in concert in 1996. The songs remind me of true stuff that I've seen. Shame On You I find like a anger relieve song.
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bluekarma06
Been enjoying them for nearly 25 years! Seems they have been around almost as long as I have dug Indie music
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Seeing them tomorrow night in Nashville... b e e n a fan for along time. So excited!!
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Some of these comments are fantastic. Nice to see music inspire so many. Harmony helps us all balance :-D
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Bearbait. I remember the first time Romeo and Juliet hit the radio. I freaked, went straight to a record store and still listen to that disc often. Saw it live years later. I listen to the dire straights version differently now ;-)
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Their cover of Dire Straits' Romeo and Juliet will always be my favorite song.
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They are my absolute favorite musicians.
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Love the Indigo girls. In 98 or 99 I saw them at the Karl Marx theater in Havana. A bunch of bands there. They were a highlight for me. We were there covering the Orioles vs Cuban National team. Hung out with Buffet, Raitt and the girls afterwards. A picture from that night surfaced a few months back. We were all younger. Such a great memory :-)
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I heard Closer to Fine randomly on the radio with a friend and we struggled to figure out who it was, sounded like Paul Simon but was girls. Bought the Cas-single that weekend. Been a huge fan ever since.
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Thanks girls I took your help and it propelled me into heaven. Coming back not as much fun but all part of a spiritual journey with god.
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Their music saved my life, and spoke to me in dark times to rescue me many times.
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I wrote their fan club asked fir an autographed photo. I got one. How many bands would do that? They are cool.
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kayo2697
Don't read this because it actually works. You will be kissed on the nearest Friday by the love of your life. Tomorrow will be the best day of your life. However if you don't post this you will die in 2 days. Now you started reading this so don't stop. This is so scary put this on at least 5 songs in the next 143 minutes. When done press f6 and your lovers name will appear on the screen in big letters this is so scary because it actually works
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Love these ladies, loved them before they got big, great voices, great lyrics. Saw them live in 1990. Holy s**t, that was a show!
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martheye
I was named after Emily Saliers. Not many people can say that. :D
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jennifer_luc i a n i
Indigo Girls and ARay's solo work = best damn music ever!!! I've seen their solo shows, with a full backing band (the Shadowboxers - the best!) and symphony shows. You can't go wrong no matter the venue/show set.
Most recently was in Lowell, MA the night DOMA was shot down. The best venue and celebration ever!
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anniecraxmeu p
Can't wait to see their friend, the incredible Michelle Malone at Red Clay Theatre in Duluth, GA tonight. If you haven't heard Michelle yet...you're welcome!
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anniecraxmeu p
Some of my best memories in live music was seeing these wonderfully talented home town girls kill it on stage over and over. They delivered every time, and still so!
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I like them, but not a huge fan. With that said, I think both Rites of Passage and Shaming of the Sun are classics albums, and of course Closer to Fine is a great song. Got to see them in concert a lot in the Bay Area, as it seems they were always touring. Loved how they closed their shows soon after 9/11 with Paul Simon's American Tune.
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The 2 are a perfect balance and compliment each other like nothing I have heard since the first time I heard them in college in the late 80's, catch them everytime they are in town, great show EVERY time!
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Surprised there's no mention in their bio of the song that made me curious...bu r y my heart at Wounded knee.
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Been a fan since I heard the first song 20 some years ago. I have seen them live with a full band, just the two of them on stage with guitars, and most recently with a symphony. The music moves me like no other and will always b on my playlist.
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Listened to this with my dad when I was younger, and fell in love with it then. The girls sound like home to me :)
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cbdempsey0
fell in love in 1989, watching them perform Closer to Fine on (can you believe it?) the Today Show. i was on vacation, in some disposable chain hotel waiting on my turn in the shower - and i suddenly had to sit down. i've been to every live performance in a 100 mile area that i could go to and have been in love ever since.
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I have been a fan since I heard Strange Fire and Closer to Fine. I have loved every album they have created ever since. Their song Ghost gets to me every time. They are a blessing from God and I hope they keep on turning out songs that move us for a long time to come.
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w8tzo
The girls make incredible music and a live concert is a religous expirience of music and soul... do not miss your chance
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gandrews45
The Indigo Girls' music has been the soundtrack to my life.
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This song is so so much!
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cheyenne1255
As a vocalist and performer who hasn't been blessed with the songwriting talent, I am always in professional awe of the lyrics these two amazing women give us....And to see them live is always among the most precious of my memories. I took my daughter (who is a singer herself) to see them at age 15 and most recently she took me for my 56th birthday, 12 years later. Love you girls !
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beloved_acc
Can still remember hearing Ghost at the age of 14 and have been hooked ever since. Their raw emotional lyricism and haunting harmonies continue to slay me every time. And they sound just as amazing live!
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I saw them at the Emory Univ. college bar in '87 and most recently in the round at the Hyannis (MA) Melody Tent a couple of years ago. They haven't lost a thing in 20+ years
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They are simply so true to todays experiences! ! ! n T h e Best is yet to come I am sure!!
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Have loved them forever... can't wait for the new album!
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priestesstam a r a
I love these womyn! Hmmmm!
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Salmon
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elizawyatt44
Their poetry speaks to the heart!
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Love 'em! Always have, always will. They sing the truth w/ the voices of angels and song birds. Such talented Ladies w/ spirit to spare...LOVE 'EM!
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My favorite band EVER! I can never get enough Indigo Girls. I listen every day!!
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Best band ever!! I have been a huge fan since I was about 12 years old. In concert they are so incredible and they don't need all of the lights and special effects, etc....that other bands need to put on a great show. I've seen their acoustic shows and shows with a full band. Both are spectacular and so much fun! And how many bands are there out there that are still together (let alone still making incredible music) after more than 20 years?? They're awesome.
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I've been a fan for about 15 years. Listen to them nearly every day!! Their music always puts a smile on my face and a warm fuzzy in my heart. Best live show I've ever seen too! It's rare to find artists who sound just as good on stage as they do on an album.
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canucanoe
Just saw them in Michigan, for about the 10th time or so. Never will get tired of these awesome singer songwriters. I love to play their music myself, the best stress relief there is.
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They are headlining the Creative Clay Folk fest in St.Pete 10.1.10...an d it's free!!! So excited!!!!
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I love these artists and they are GREAT together!
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im liking the sweet voices... not familiar with them this old dog learns new tricks
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I completely disagree with the comment by the reviewer: "the material wasn't as strong" on Nomads - Indians - Saints. Along with "Indigo Girls" and "Swamp Ophelia" this is one of my favorite Indigo Girls albums. I think it's a perfect reflection of 2 artists at the peak of their personal spiritual/mu s i c a l arch.
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