Amy Ray and Emily Saliers —
Music and Finding God in Church and Smoky Bars

The folk rock duo Amy Ray and Emily Saliers have been making music for over 25 years. They’re known for their social activism on-stage and off, but long before they became the Indigo Girls, they were singing in church choirs. They see music as a continuum of human existence, intertwined with spiritual life in a way that can’t be pinned down.

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is a singer-songwriter who is one-half of the folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls. Her latest solo album, Goodnight Tender, was released in January 2014.

is a singer-songwriter who is one-half of the folk-rock duo the Indigo Girls. She is also the co-author of A Song to Sing, A Life to Live: Reflections on Music as a Spiritual Practice.

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With folk-legend Pete Seeger's passing, a scholar reflects on the fragmented history of American music. He envisions a new path for unity: a beloved community of musical voices allied in song.

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Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls performing live at the Wild Goose Festival in Hot Springs, North Carolina.

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outstanding interview. the ending comments are total keepers. way to go krista.

THOROUGHLY enjoyed listening to this conversation. Now I understand more about WHY your music and lyrics mean soooo much to me. Both of you write and perform poetic/anthem/spiritual songs that continue to validate me, and my experience in this life and world, as well as my other relationships, especially between me and my child (now thirty-something!) We literally both grew up with you, and I thank God for you both! My experience at your concerts, duo and Amy's solo, are always transcendent, with no separation between you and me and God. I can't thank you enough!! Peace to you both, Evie

My wife and I have been Indigo Girls fans since we were seniors in high school in 1991. Hearing this interview made me feel like I was getting to know two friends better, I can't thank you enough for producing this. And it's okay Emily, I get nervous when my wife calls me her wife too!

I woke up to the voices of Ms. Amy Ray and Emily Sailers speaking of God to Krista Tippett. I heard God referred to as "it" and the "thing". What is the source of such speech? There is the record of who God is, His purpose, His expectation for Amy Ray, Emily Sailers and I. The source of God is not in man or woman but in the writing of Scripture contained in 66 books of the Old Covenant and 39 books of the New Covenant (Testament) Of Jesus Christ. God speaks of himself as male and Amy, Emily and I were made in His image, with capacity to choose, think and become what He expects us to be Genesis 1:26-27. The Church is not man's idea because One, Jesus Christ gave His life for her Ephesians 5:24-27. Who God is is not an origin of mankind and comments about Him should be supported with a proper source reference, otherwise we may be guilty of plagiarizing and misrepresentation. Unsupported comments about God could become blasphemy if great care is not taken to get the correct description. If the correct quote and information about God is not available say nothing at all.

Celebrating the music of Sunday morning! "The name (God) may be a matter of choice and convention. If you are prejudiced against it, don't use it. But don't neglect the reality."

You must not have been listening but hallucinating. What they said was beautiful.

And that would be your opinion, the same thing that others can express freely in this great country, the USA! If you don't want to hear things that challenge your thinking, perhaps you should change the station and read another blog.

I agree that we must be very careful when we are talking about God, we must be honest when expressing our experiences with Him/Her......I happen to believe God is BOTH male and female since we are all created in God's image, there is God the Father, God the Son, but I've never read anything that tells us what gender the Holy Spirit is, and I believe the Holy Spirit is the part of God that's female, it's fire, it's love, it's strong,like a woman, and besides. Some of us have more experience with reading the Bible, and are further along the spiritual path than others, so when they speak and misrepresent God, it isn't necessarily blaspheming, but just sharing their own experiences.

They always sound good yodeling in the canyon -- and at Red Rocks.

what powerful and clear women, catching for and with all of us the real meaning of Spirit!

I caught the last 30 minutes of On Being with the Indigo Girls and I will be sure to listen to it in its entirety soon, but I just needed to comment on the discussion regarding the rare times at live concerts where the music, performer and audience become one. That energy is something I go to concerts to experience. When artists write and sing from their soul, it is pure magic! The energy is palpable and it is always a very healing experience for me. I literally could not survive in this world without the music that touches me. Thank you for discussing such important topics to help us get to know the Indigo Girls on a more meaningful level and to help me understand why music is such an important part of my spiritual life.

I attended a catholic grade school and although we did not have band or instrumental instruction, we did experience the joy of singing. This conversation validates what my music teacher was able to share with us, in her own way, in the late 60's.

"One who sings prays twice." Sister Jude

Hey, Krista!!! Cheers to you for having Amy and Emily on your show!!! I've been one of your listeners since the show was Speaking of Faith, I've been an Indigo Girls fan since 1993/94, the discussion on your show (like always) was very relevant, and thought provoking, I had been very depressed that day and had gone out, when I got back home, I took a bath, and when your show was on, I taped it this time, and sat back and relaxed!! i hadn't been so happy in a long time. I wish there was a way I could get a cd of this episode! That way I won't have to risk my tape getting eaten by my boom box!! I kept looking to see if your site offers any cd's but I didn't find anything. I hope everything goes well for all of you at On Being, I was so happy to hear Emily is getting married!! It just made me so happy for her!!. So I'm glad things are going well for Amy and Emily too!!! Kudos!!

It's awesome when the Girls are interviewed and you get more clues on their past and it helps to understand their music better, especially the early songs. Their evolving self discovery through their music has only helped the rest of us evolve, accept ourselves, and appreciate their music. They live a spiritual life honoring all kinds of people and cultures and have the courage to make a stand towards cooporate bully tactics. The spirituality they harmonize about only inspires us to take care of the stray pet or person who needs lifting up and a helping hand.

I thought it was going to be some boring old post, but it really compensated for my time. I will post a link to this page on my blog. I am sure my visitors will locate that extremely useful

Wonderful interview! WOuld you be willing to share the book (coauthored with one of the Indigo Girls' fathers)that was the source of the Heschel quote (to the effect of "sacred music is an attempt to convey that which is within our reach but beyond our grasp." thanks!

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast, I could relate to some of the things that were talked about and I think that made it a lot easier to focus on the message. I enjoyed that they put some of their music into the program as well. It was encouraging to hear their life from the beginning and to know their background before they got into what is happening now. The fact that they both came from different religions and different backgrounds and then came together and made the best out of it and still keep that though but also brought in a new way of thinking was awesome I think. I am a religious person and I get most of my spiritual wealth from the music so that is where I was really about to relate and be able to follow and be moved the most.

When they began telling us that they were a lesbian couple I was able to relate even more, growing up I played hockey and my coaches were lesbians so from that time on I always thought it was okay to like someone of the same sex. There seems to me that there is nothing wrong with that and that it is not what I would choose but I don’t see anything wrong with that. So to know that they are two people who are writing music and being a positive influence on people make me happy and makes me wonder why people can’t accept people who find love in the same sex.

This message was very powerful and informational to me and I think that you can believe whatever you want but at the end of the day if you are happy and know that you have made the right choices than that’s all that matters in my eyes.

I really enjoyed listening to this podcast, I could relate to some of the things that were talked about and I think that made it a lot easier to focus on the message. I enjoyed that they put some of their music into the program as well. It was encouraging to hear their life from the beginning and to know their background before they got into what is happening now. The fact that they both came from different religions and different backgrounds and then came together and made the best out of it and still keep that though but also brought in a new way of thinking was awesome I think. I am a religious person and I get most of my spiritual wealth from the music so that is where I was really about to relate and be able to follow and be moved the most.

When they began telling us that they were a lesbian couple I was able to relate even more, growing up I played hockey and my coaches were lesbians so from that time on I always thought it was okay to like someone of the same sex. There seems to me that there is nothing wrong with that and that it is not what I would choose but I don’t see anything wrong with that. So to know that they are two people who are writing music and being a positive influence on people make me happy and makes me wonder why people can’t accept people who find love in the same sex.

This message was very powerful and informational to me and I think that you can believe whatever you want but at the end of the day if you are happy and know that you have made the right choices than that’s all that matters in my eyes.

Go go indigo girls. We love and support the all of you.

I can't help but remember what a NICE SURPRIZE it was to wake up Sunday morning a year ago, to hear Krista Tippet interviewing Indigo Girls!!! I have been an avid fan of theirs for TWENTY YEARS now,I have gone to every single show here in the Twin Cities for that long.....they have opened me up to so many new ideas,and listening to interviews and/or reading them is always educational!! I am so happy for Emily and her new family!! I couldn't listen in the morning , so I caught the rebroadcast at seven pm. I taped the whole the thing!! I wish you would put this out CD as my boom box didn't do that good a job recording. Please let me know if you will do that, it could provide more funding for your wonderful show.Thanks!!

Inspired me to start writing a song, (a poem more likely) but an anthem in which:
Heaven is forever
&in heaven: (insert something great that happens today)(verse 1-4 e.g. Same sex families raising great kids, enemies unite for greater good, poor transformed by unemployed, prisons emptied)

but we only have Now...We fuss and we fight we just can't unite, we hate & destroy....

so if we're making heaven we'd better start treasure your neighbor, love your foe, transforming your world by teaching, rethinking, respecting, forgiving and caring again. ..
Or something like that!

Thank you for this opportunity to reflect on the contribution of the Indigo Girls music in my life. At my all girls camp, we spent every summer trying to master the harmonies and challenging ourselves to memorize all lyrics. The past two years, I returned back as an adult to support the camp's bereavement program. It's called Circle at Fleur de Lis and I was so heartened to see the new generations just as eagerly gobbling up the music.

I thought the interview went well. I've been a fan for over 20 years. Listening to them describe their views on church, social action and personal interpretation resonated with me. Being a black man and attending their concerts always seemed to just the right thing to do. Music doesn't discriminate when it tells the truth. Thanks Y'all!

The interview with the Indigo Girls came right on time this morning. Later today a group of GLBT folks will attend the 11:00 am service at Houston's Second Baptist Church where the pulpit was used to organize the (successful) effort to prevent the passage of HERO (Houston Equal Rights Ordinance) because of GLBT inclusion. This is NOT a hostile demonstration. We have just included that in their carefully controlled world, they do not know GLBT people and since they are not likely to come out to meet us, perhaps we should all dress up and visit their service instead. I found the interview inspiring and encouraging. When they last performed in Houston at The House of Blues, I was in the audience...

beautifully done. talking music, activism and spirituality was spot on for many of us. needing a 'we shall overcome' for this generation, YES!!

Emily, I believe you had your first real gig at the Ground Round in St. Cloud, right? I will never forget the Saliers family and I do pull up your dad's Facebook updates. Congratulations on your very successful career.

I cannot understand why two talented women must label themselves "queer". Is it possible that they are normal like every permutation on earth? I think if the gay community is looking for acceptance, the last thing on earth I would do is call myself "queer". Being homosexual doesn't require a person to prance, to dress like a man, to label themselves "queer" or "gay"... to go butch or whatever... I think you are what you are and have no reason to announce it. Just get on with living in community with others. In my opinion, the bigger problem we have as human beings is the need to label so that others can cast us out. Don't ask me why but I think labeling creates at least 1/2 the problem. What do you guys think?