American country star Melissa Etheridge has reason to celebrate on Sunday (29May11) - she turns 50!
The singer/songwriter shot to fame with the release of her self-titled debut album in 1988, and has since released 11 records which have sold 27 million copies worldwide.
She stunned the country world in 1993 when she 'came out' as a lesbian, and has continued to hit headlines with her eventful personal life, which has seen her successfully overcome a battle with cancer.
To mark her 50th birthday, WENN has looked back and found 10 fascinating facts about the star - enjoy your day Melissa!
- Born Melissa Lou Etheridge to parents John and Elizabeth, she was raised by her parents in Leavenworth, Kansas.
- Her love of music began early on in life - she picked up up her first guitar at the age of eight.
- Etheridge was a vocal supporter of U.S. President Barack Obama in 2008 when he was lobbying for the White House, even changing the lyrics to one of her songs at a concert in honour of the politician.
- A committed campaigner for environmental issues, Etheridge toured the U.S. and Canada in 2006 using biodiesel fuel.
- The star is mother to four kids - Bailey, 14, and Beckett, 12, with former partner Julie Cypher, and twins Miller and Johnnie, four, by her most recent ex-girlfriend, Tammy Lynn Michaels. They were all fathered by sperm donors and Etheridge's partners gave birth to them.
- The singer was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004 and underwent chemotherapy and surgery in a bid to beat the illness. She declared herself cancer-free the following year (05).
- The musician is a longtime marijuana legalisation advocate.
- In 2007, Etheridge landed a Best Original Song Academy Award for her track I Need To Wake Up from the documentary An Inconvenient Truth.
- Etheridge appeared on Broadway in February (11) to perform in musical American Idiot, while Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong took a break from the show.
- The star received an early birthday present this month (May11) - she was handed the Lifetime Achievement award at the Outmusic Awards on 24 May (11).