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Musician Spotlight: Janis Joplin

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Janis Joplin

Source: Wikimedia Commons

I don’t want to end this year without attempting to get some people my age hooked on late sixties singer Janis Joplin.

I decided to give her music a try a few months ago when I found myself looking for more soulful singers to listen to. I can’t remember the first Janis Joplin song I enjoyed. After listening to almost all her albums, it felt like all the emotion in her voice had blended into one howling note.

Her voice is raspy yet extremely powerful and soulful. While I didn’t like all of her songs, I admired the fact that Joplin could sing rock, blues, funk, soul, and country. Most of her live performances are great and some are better than the album version.

Combined together with the lyrics, her voice is deeply moving. While Joplin didn’t write all of the songs, her voice makes it sound like she did.

At the same time, songs that Joplin did write are touching because of how honest her voice and lyrics are. Some of my favorite songs are “Turtle Blues“, “Kosmic Blues” “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder)” and “Cry Baby“.

Besides Joplin’s voice and lyrics, I related to who she was as a person.

According to a documentary on Joplin, she had a tough time during and after high school. At school, she was bullied for being overweight and she was considered an outcast for being artsy and liking black people.

Things didn’t seem to get better, even when she became famous. Not only was she insecure because of high school and numerous rejections, but she had to deal with the pressure that came from being a woman in rock n’ roll.

By the time she was about to create what would be her final album Pearl, she had created an alter-ego of the same name to go with it. I really liked her as Pearl; her outfit on the album’s cover looked cool.  Yet, Joplin seemed to smile only on the outside.

After learning that she passed away at the age of 27, I felt as sad as I did when I became a fan of Amy Winehouse. Just like with Winehouse’s music, I wished Joplin could have put out more albums before she passed.

I love Janis Joplin’s music just as much as I love Amy Winehouse’s music. I admire Joplin pouring  her heart and soul into her music and for showing that women without the ideal image can be successful.

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Written by Serena Zola

December 4, 2013 at 10:00 AM

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