By Stella Rosenberg.
Janis Joplin: First-Ever Rock Mama
It’s the summer of 1968. Your friends are talking about this new music style in San Francisco. You decide to buy and listen to the new hit album “Cheap Thrills.” Big Brothers has taken in a new lead singer. A girl among the four boys. Her voice and style is different from anything you’ve heard before. You have never heard such a raw and gut-wrenching voice before. You have never heard anyone sing with as much furious intent before. But, you have now heard of the new sensation, Janis Joplin.
Janis Joplin is said to be an iconic artist, but what is it that makes her iconic? Being an icon is more than just talent, or it doesn’t even have to be talent. I’ve seen people questioning things like “Why do people like Janis Joplin get praised and honored when they weren't good singers?” Well, the answer to this is that she has influenced a lot of people with her style, with herself. Janis is iconic because she was herself. She had her style, personality, and voice. She was different and norm-breaking. She might not have sung with the most perfect pitch or crystal clear voice, but she sang from her heart. Her music truly bleeds emotion. Janis music bleeds pain, joy, and fear. Music doesn’t have to sound perfect, it’s the emotion the artist creates on you that matters. At least for me, it’s what matters.
Janis major works are “Me and Bobby McGee,” “Piece of my heart,” “Cry Baby,” and “Summertime.” These are some of her most popular works. I would say that the song that really makes her iconic is “Ball and Chain.” She and Big Brothers performed it at the Monterey pop festival 1967. It was her breakthrough performance. They took Big Mama Thornton's song and made it into a slow minor-key blues. After this performance she really got noticed, newspapers had headlines such as “The Triumph of the New S.F Music.”
An artist is defined as “One who composes, conducts, or performs music.” For me, an artist is much more. An artist can awaken and strengthen emotions. Being happy and listen to a happy song makes you even happier. Being sad and listen to a sad song makes you cry even more. Basically, an artist can create an emotion on you. This can also be the hardest part about being an artist, because sure you can have the perfect voice but you have to sing from your heart to really touch people. An artist can also be someone you look up to. Someone that inspires you and has a positive effect on your self-growth.
Janis was a lonely person. Growing up she was bullied and the outcast. She was never really accepted by anyone, not even her family. Janis took all of her pain from this and used it in her performances. This is why she could sing with so much pain and passion. But unfortunately, singing didn’t take away all of the pain. When she wasn’t performing or singing she did drugs and drank. She did it to fill the empty hole in her soul. This is Janis biggest critic.
The best compliment to Janis is simply herself. Even though she was a lonely person, she refused to change herself to follow the norms. She stood up for herself and others. She was different and did her own thing. You shouldn’t try to be someone else, being yourself will take you the furthest in life. And this had been proved by Janis.
Joplin has influenced many people in different ways. She influenced a lot of her fans to be different, or just to dare to be themselves. She also has a big impact on society since she dared to be different and stood up for people’s rights. She was not afraid to show her sexuality or to stand up for women’s rights. She also influenced a lot of artists such as Aerosmith, Pink, Delaney & Bonnie, Amy Winehouse. Joplin paved the way for countless women in rock.
Janis will always be remembered for her raw and emotional voice. No white person has ever sung as Janis did before. At the time Janis was big, many musicians were trying to sing like Afro-American blues singers. Most of them were not convincing, but Janis blew the audience away. It’s amazing how she was big when my grandparents were young, and almost everyone in my generation knows who she is. She truly is an icon.