Emily Saliers is an American singer-songwriter and member of the Indigo Girls. Saliers plays lead guitar as well as banjo, piano, mandolin, ukulele, bouzouki and many other instruments. Emily first met her future Indigo Girls counterpart Amy Ray when they were students at Laurel Ridge Elementary School in Decatur, Georgia. In addition to her work with the Indigo Girls, Emily is an author, restaurant owner, has written a film score, and has also appeared on stage and screen.
Well-known for their activism as their music, the Indigo Girls have been long-time champions for important causes including the environment, LGBT rights, the rights of Native Americans, and against the death penalty. Taking their activism to a new level, the Indigo Girls also utilize their website to bring attention to and raise money for various causes.
What environmental issue(s) do you consider to be the most critical at this time?
Fracking and the XL Pipeline. Fracking uses inordinate amounts of water that has to be transported at great environmental cost and the risk of groundwater contamination is too great not to turn instead to renewable sources of energy. Fracking is violent penetration of the Earth; it breaks treaties and disregards protecting the water which provides us with life. It is the epitome of profit-driven short-term deadly thinking.
The XL Pipeline would cross farmland and Indian land where it is not wanted. It would increase production of tar sand oil from Alberta tar sand oil is extremely dirty and toxic and environmentally devastating. Potential leaks (and leaks will happen) could be catastrophic. Any jobs that might be created will disappear after the XL line is built. The economic gains are minuscule compared to the deadly environmental risks, not to mention the illegal intrusion on cherished land.
What has inspired you to combine environmental activism with music?
Like the rhythms, spaces, heartbeat and melodies of our natural world, music embodies us. It is elemental to our survival. Songs galvanize people in social and environmental movements, and a song lifts spirits during difficult times. Music heals our brokenness, makes our bodies move and our minds think. Music and activism form a perfect union, one informing and supporting the other. The performances we have that benefit others or causes are our very favorite performances.
Where is your favorite place in nature to go to find solace or inspiration?
I want to be near birds and water. So, anywhere where there are trees and lots of birds singing and hawks screeching and crows crowing and owls hooting. I also love the ocean, because our bodies are so much water and are pulled by the tides. Being by the water makes me feel whole and peaceful and filled with the deepest gratitude. What a stunningly beautiful world in which we live. We must protect it for future generations.