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Amy Ray, left, and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls will perform Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 29-30, in Walker Theatre. / Photo from Indigogirls.com

There have been plenty of successful duos in the history of music. Simon & Garfunkel. Sonny & Cher. The Everly Brothers. The Black Keys. But only one has had Top 40 hits in three decades.

That distinction belongs to Amy Ray and Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls. The two return to Chattanooga for back-to-back shows in Walker Theatre on Wednesday and Thursday, Jan. 29-30. Saliers humbly says the three-decade factoid just means they've been around for a long time, but admits it is a cool thing to be able to lay claim to.

"That is very cool, really," she said. "We are so fortunate that we signed during that time when other women were getting signed, and we never had to compromise our values and we have had support from our fans the whole way.

"Now, we are not breaking records, but we are still able to play to wonderful groups of people."

She said that being true to themselves over the years has been the key to their longevity.

If you go

› What: Indigo Girls with Becky Warren

› Where: Walker Theatre inside Memorial Auditorium, 399 McCallie Ave.

› When: 8 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 29, and Thursday, Jan. 30

› Admission: $44.50 and $64.50

› For more information: 423-757-5580

"We couldn't have done it any other way," she said. "We came into the whole situation exactly as we are ... two gay women who are exactly as we are."

They've also been fortunate to have label and management behind them who never asked them to change or do something they didn't want to do. They were offered a good deal of money to have one of their songs used in a commercial, however.

"We were not tempted, but we did say, 'Ohhh, that's a lot of money.'"

In addition to having a loyal fan base, Saliers said the two have had some amazing opportunities over the years. Among those has been to have their music played with a full orchestra behind them on several occasions. Their first, in fact, was with the Chattanooga Symphony & Opera in 2012.

Saliers said there is nothing like hearing a song you've written for a duo, played with an orchestra.

"It is so powerful and it's beautiful," she said. "Sometimes it's distracting because you want to turn around and just listen."

She said the shows work because they hire really good arrangers who rework the songs beyond their original structure.

"Most orchestras don't really want to play pop shows, but our arrangements are good and they enjoy the experience. Now, I can't hear our songs any other way."

For her next adventure, Saliers said she would like to compose a musical and is "tossing around some ideas" with Jennifer Nettles.

"I'd also like to do some more co-writing."

She said she believes that good songwriting with strong vocals and melodies are making a comeback and that the industry feels like it has opened up with artists ignoring barriers such as genres.

"I follow the charts, and I think Billie Eilish is incredible and so is Taylor Swift. I feel like songs are coming back. Bon Iver is making these soundscapes that are incredible. The sky is the limit."

Contact Barry Courter at bcourter@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6354.

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