Congressional candidate Heather Mizeur first met rock singer Melissa Etheridge back in 2008, when the singer phoned Mizeur, a superdelegate at that year’s Democratic National Convention, on behalf of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.
The pair spoke for two hours, bonding over their Midwestern upbringings and history of carrying pocket Constitutions — Etheridge recalled Mizeur being personable, real and upfront. They later met at one of Etheridge’s concerts at DAR Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C., and again at the Democratic National Convention.
They got along so well that when Etheridge couldn’t find a place to stay to perform at the 2009 Green Inaugural Ball, she ended up at Mizeur’s house.
And now, 14 years of friendship later, Etheridge sold out a concert at STAR Centre in Havre de Grace on Saturday night to benefit Mizeur’s campaign for Maryland’s District 1 seat in the House of Representatives.
The event was exactly a month before this year’s midterm election where Mizeur, a Democrat, will face off against Rep. Andy Harris, the longtime Republican serving District 1.
Etheridge approached Mizeur about wanting to perform a benefit concert for her, and Mizeur chose the STAR Centre to “help boost economic development in this region,” she said.
“What better way to … help put this facility and Havre de Grace on the map,” Mizeur told The Aegis, “than to invite a Grammy and Oscar award-winning rock star to come perform here.”
The concert wasn’t even the start of Mizeur’s day — she’d been to three campaign stops before the 7 p.m. show, including Havre de Grace’s Oktoberfest celebration and the Upper Chesapeake Bay Pride festival, also in Havre de Grace.
Mizeur also said that her politics and Etheridge’s songs shared themes.
“We both believe that we all can and should be one,” Mizeur said, “that we all can live and speak in truth and connection to each other, and that there is more that connects us than divides us.”
In a statement provided to The Aegis by the Mizeur campaign, Etheridge said: “I’m thrilled to be here in Havre de Grace rocking out in support of my friend Heather Mizeur. I know that Heather will be an outstanding congresswoman for Maryland’s First District.”
Proceeds from the event went to Heather Mizeur for Congress, with ticket purchases being considered donations, according to the campaign website. Tickets varied widely in price– the lowest were $45, and the highest were $1,000, which included a meet-and-greet with Etheridge and a seat in the front row.
Etheridge breezed through a bevy of her songs with the crowd, including “Testify,” “All American Girl,” “Ain’t It Heavy,” and, of course, her hit “Come to My Window,” which closed the set. She headed the stage solo, transitioning back and forth from strumming a guitar and playing a piano that Mizeur apparently had transported to the venue from Baltimore.
“And a nice one too!” Etheridge said.
One of the pillars of Mizeur’s campaign has been about bringing people together and avoiding partisanship.
“Everywhere we go, people are just incredibly excited and filled with enthusiasm,” Mizeur said, “because what this campaign is focused on is bringing us together, transcending partisanship and ideology to solve problems and get good things done in our communities again.”
Toward the end of her set, Etheridge brought Mizeur onstage to further vouch for her.
“Partisan is not a word that fits her,” Etheridge said, urging the crowd to elect Mizeur as the district’s next representative: “You will not be sorry.”
Havre de Grace Mayor Bill Martin attended the event and said he was proud the city could host Etheridge.
“It’s a wonderful night for our city,” Martin said, “and an even better night for our new STAR Centre that’s emerging as a regional performing arts center.”
The concert brought people from all over, including Coreen Buetz of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, who was invited to the event by her sister Missy to see Etheridge. However, she still found herself compelled by Mizeur’s words.
“If I could, I would vote for her,” Buetz said. “She seems really great.”
Gigi Rosenblatt, of Bel Air, was also mainly drawn to the event to see Etheridge’s performance, but said she was still excited to see a Democrat running to serve Harford County.
“I want to get out and support any Democratic candidate,” Rosenblatt said.
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Susan Carroll, from Baltimore, was at the event more to support Mizeur.
“She’s more amazing to me than Melissa because she’s like our people,” said Carroll, who started following Mizeur after her 2014 gubernatorial campaign because of her support for unions.
“This is a great shot for her to really help Maryland,” Carroll said.
Brenna Kupferman, of Aberdeen, said the event brought out people from all walks of life, showing the draw of not only Etheridge, but also Mizeur.
“She’s all the things we want to see in somebody [who] represents us,” Kupferman said. “Heather’s willing to listen and to understand the people who live and, therefore, do things that we all want to have done.”
Kupferman said she was also optimistic about what having a big name, such as Etheridge, performing in Havre de Grace could mean for the future of the city.
“We’re on the verge of bringing in national acts like this regularly, rather than just as a ‘once in a blue moon,’” she said.