Longlisted for the 2020 Andrew Carnegie Medals for Excellence
This blazingly intimate biography of Janis Joplin establishes the Queen of Rock & Roll as the rule-breaking musical trailblazer and complicated, gender-bending rebel she was.
Janis Joplin's first transgressive act was to be a white girl who gained an early sense of the power of the blues, music you could only find on obscure records and in roadhouses along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coast. But even before that, she stood out in her conservative oil town. She was a tomboy who was also intellectually curious and artistic. By the time she reached high school, she had drawn the scorn of her peers for her embrace of the Beats and her racially progressive views. Her parents doted on her in many ways, but were ultimately put off by her repeated acts of defiance.
Janis Joplin has passed into legend as a brash, impassioned soul doomed by the pain that produced one of the most extraordinary voices in rock history. But in these pages, Holly George-Warren provides a revelatory and deeply satisfying portrait of a woman who wasn't all about suffering. Janis was a perfectionist: a passionate, erudite musician who was born with talent but also worked exceptionally hard to develop it. She was a woman who pushed the boundaries of gender and sexuality long before it was socially acceptable. She was a sensitive seeker who wanted to marry and settle down—but couldn't, or wouldn't. She was a Texan who yearned to flee Texas but could never quite get away—even after becoming a countercultural icon in San Francisco.
Written by one of the most highly regarded chroniclers of American music history, and based on unprecedented access to Janis Joplin's family, friends, band mates, archives, and long-lost interviews, Janis is a complex, rewarding portrait of a remarkable artist finally getting her due.
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by Michael Lang, Holly George-Warren
by Michelle Latiolais
by Steve Yates
by Janet Dailey
by Joelle Charbonneau
by Emma Douglas
by Charlie Donlea
by Greer Macallister
by Suzanne Woods Fisher
by Sharon Sala
by Ann Hood
"Author, Grammy nominee, and college professor Holly George-Warren offers an incisive and compelling portrait of musical legend Janis Joplin. Actress Nina Arianda's narration is effective, though her phrasing is frequently stilted. Her weakest efforts are her unsuccessful attempts to voice interviewees in direct quotes and to re-create Joplin's singing. This well-researched biography of the lead singer of Big Brother and the Holding Company, who was also a solo artist, does not offer much that is revelatory. The late Joplin remains a modern master of the style of black female blues singers such as Bessie Smith, with a peppering of rock swagger added. Arianda presents the chronology of Joplin's life without much flair. Loneliness, suffering, and pain are themes from her childhood onward. W.A.G. © AudioFile 2020, Portland, Maine"
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