amy ray on changing times, activism

original publish date: 19 may 2009
by tracy collins,

[link to source]

The Bush years were trying times for social activists the Indigo Girls. With a new president, new gains for gay rights in Iowa and New Hampshire and plenty of turmoil, things are changing quickly. And that suits Amy Ray just fine. Her thoughts, shared in a phone interview with :

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images | Muscians Amy Ray (L) and Emily Saliers of the band Indigo Girls.

Neilson Barnard/Getty Images | Muscians Amy Ray (L) and Emily Saliers of the band Indigo Girls.

On changing times

“I’m excited about these times. I think if you take all of (the political events) and put it with what’s happening with the arts – I mean the pop arts, with the Internet and how much it’s changing things – I think you put all that together and it spells upheaval and revolution. And I’m with (President) Obama on the ‘change is good’ thing. I’ve always liked change, and I like to see it when things get shifted around.

On the fruits of activism

“There are a lot of doors opening in (causes) Emily and I have been working on for a long time. And it’s fun to see that and be a part of it. And to do work and not just feel like we’re just hitting our head against the wall. We’re not just maintaining balance, but we’re actually going to tip the scales in our favor. Which is a cool feeling.”

On coming together

“I feel like there are some bridges being built between people who have different ideologies. The Iowa decision (ruling a ban on gay marriage unconstitutional) is a great example of things happening in areas where people wouldn’t normally think things would happen. Which I think is good. It teaches us. Because I’m a Southerner, I get very tired of people thinking in one generally stereotypic way about one area and putting it in a certain category or even fantasizing it in a way that doesn’t give it its own nuance and identity.”

On economic troubles

“I’m worried about the economy, and I have a lot of friends who are out of work right now. A lot. So, that’s hard to watch. We just have to help each other out and do things in our communities to help each other – whether it’s lending your neighbor a couple hundred bucks or what. It’s doing whatever you can.”

Activism wasn’t a factor when the duo started – Ray was 15, “and we were more worried about what song we were going to play for our English class tomorrow.” But to borrow from one of the band’s songs, they soon learned “the power of two.”

Sparking their activism

“Early in our careers, before we even signed with a record label, we would do a little benefit here or there and raise a few hundred dollars. And it felt like, ‘Oh, this works.’ For us, even the small stuff showed you can have an effect on your community with what you’re doing. Funneling your gifts into that and engaging with your community is something we wanted to do.”

The cumulative effect

“We don’t ever think about large impact because we work on such a community level. The groups we work with have such small budgets and take such small steps. But they all add up to this huge impact we can be proud of.”


~ by Erin on Wednesday, July 8, 2009.

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