American Legends: The Life of Janis Joplin

ISBN: 9781499339895
*Includes pictures.
*Includes Joplin's own quotes about her life and career.
*Includes footnotes and a bibliography for further reading.

"The more you live, the less you die.” – Janis Joplin

The life and career of Janis Joplin marks such a stark departure from the blues, rock and soul traditions as American society has come to know them that her brief and tempestuous career defies artistic analysis, if only because there is so little precedent aside from the great African-American blues and jazz singers that influenced her. For a woman born in 1943 and coming into her professional prime in the 1960s, Joplin stood as a mesmerizing and baffling foil to the female tradition in non-classical music, which had previously been symbolized by pure, mellow voices singing thoughtful texts. In the world of rock ensembles, women often stood near the back to play peripheral percussion instruments, such as the tambourine, and from time to time, they filled in a harmony or enjoyed a brief stint on the front of the stage. However, due to Joplin’s belief that the mellow and refined tradition was not the way for her to go, the young firebrand with the conflicted past and personality opted for a complete, unrestrained expression of her deepest feelings. In the process, she both thrilled and frightened American audiences who had never seen her kind and never would again. The American music scene was entirely unprepared to witness the emergence of a white woman who could sing the blues with such authenticity, force, and depth of feeling.

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