05/29/2012 02:14 pm ET Updated May 29, 2012

Melissa Etheridge Turns 51 Today (PHOTOS)

Guess who's 51 today?

Melissa Etheridge, writer and performer of such favorites as "Ain't It Heavy," "Bring Me Some Water" and "Come to My Window"! Beloved foremost as a rocker, Etheridge has used her fame to support a variety of causes, earning her acclaim as an activist as well. Etheridge, who publicly came out of the closet in the early 90s, proved that "being both an out lesbian and a successful musician was possible."

Etheridge is just as passionate about her other causes as she is about LGBTQ issues -- she has spoken out in support of medical marijuana and she wrote the theme for Al Gore's documentary on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," wining her an Oscar to boot.

Despite these triumphs, the musician's life out of the spotlight has had its fair share of heartache and disappointment. She survived a bout with breast cancer and performed at the Grammys soon after, bravely bearing her bald head. Recently, she's been in the news for her on-going custody battle with ex-wife Tammy Lynn Michaels after their 2010 divorce; the pair are parents to twins Johnnie Rose and Miller Steven, now 5. Etheridge and Michaels reached a settlement agreement in late May, ending their years-long feud.

Etheridge is living proof that "what doesn't kill you, makes you stronger"... and leads to some great rock music. Check out the slideshow below for photos of Etheridge, plus live performances of some of her most popular anthems.



Happy Birthday, Melissa Etheridge!