Thursday, August 22, 2019 - 7:30 pm
Now in her fifth decade of writing songs and performing, Janis received her most recent Grammy nomination in 2016 for the self-produced “Patience & Sarah”, an audio book she produced and co-narrated with the actress Jean Smart (“Designing Women”.) This makes a total of 10 nominations in 8 different categories, a record for a solo artist whose first nomination came at the age of 16 for her debut album, “Janis Ian”.
She lost this last Grammy to President Jimmy Carter, but two years earlier she’d received a Grammy for “Society’s Child: My Autobiography”, winning Best Spoken Word over stiff competition (President Bill Clinton, First Lady Michelle Obama, Rachel Maddow, and Ellen DeGeneres.) Accepting the award to a tumultuous standing ovation, Ian quipped “Well, this is a stunning upset… and I have to admit that when I saw the list of nominees, my first thought was ‘There’s got to be a joke in here somewhere. An ex-president, a First Lady, and three lesbians walk into a bar…’”
On a more serious note, Ian said “We artists are the last alchemists, pulling your dreams, your hopes, your deepest desires out of thin air. We turn them into something you can hear, and play, and sing. So let us never forget this – we don’t sell music. We sell dreams.”
Ian has been in the forefront of too many controversial subjects to list here. Among others, her song “Society’s Child”, written at the age of fourteen, went on to ignite a storm among radio broadcasters and listeners for its unflinching look at the relationship between a black boy and a white girl. Her song “At Seventeen” has been featured in everything from anti-bullying commercials to television shows like The Blacklist. At Montreus, Nina Simone said the song “Stars” was the only way she could express what she was feeling at that moment. Tennessee Williams wore out three copies of Between the Lines, Johnny Cash kept a copy of Janis’ poetry book in his personal library, and her article The Internet Debacle was the first major piece to come out in favor of downloading and Internet usage in the music industry. (Incidentally, at last count it had been re-printed on more than 5,000 sites in nine different languages, and provided testimony in the Napster and Grokster cases.) The prescient article correctly foretold the formation and rise of iTunes and Youtube, among others.