“The clarity of author Ann Angel’s writing guides the reader to the eras that produced Janis.”



This biography stands as a sweet introduction to the life of Janis Joplin. It’s not intended to be a definitive study of her life or musicianship. (Only 120 pages, you can read it in an hour.) The clarity of author Ann Angel’s writing guides the reader to the eras that produced Janis. Janis’ upbringing in Texas and venturing after college run the same line: her unorthodox personality excluded her from acceptance in conservative WASP America.

Years of stigma and rejection due to her convictions and her physical appearance left Janis bereft emotionally. She retaliated by pushing the boisterous, hard-living side of herself as only facet of her image. Southern Comfort and promiscuity exhausted Janis. At the urging of loved ones, she took time to reflect during a trip to Brazil. The lushness of Rio de Janeiro coupled with a sweet beau soothed her aggression. (That romance quickly evaporated.) Yet, she reinvented her image once more into a lady in Victorian attire.

This regal character named Pearl graced the cover of her final album, which shared the name of the marine jewel. Even still, when Janis returned to her hometown for her 10-year high school reunion, she received no accolades. Some people perceived the unenthusiastic response as traumatizing for Janis. Laura Joplin, her younger sister, interpreted the events as bringing a sense of closure. Maybe Janis realized these staid creatures weren’t worth pursuing. Whether the experience strengthened or devastated Janis, we may never know.

If Janis Joplin had cultivated enough self-worth to resist abusing drugs and alcohol, she might have reached old age. She raged diabolically in her personal life but she retained a tight professionalism. She desired to grow artistically. Angel comments on Janis’ voice in her last album: “warmer, less harsh, and more finely tuned (93).” It is tragic that this softness wasn’t prolonged. Multitudes were entranced by Janis and none of the praise saved her life.

Her legacy has endured and visibly influenced current singers. I feel Pink descends and learns from Janis Joplin. The openness, the grit, the ferociousness, the sweetness, and the warmth has poured into Pink. I believe Pink has learned to not allow her vices to consume her. Therefore, Janis Joplin did not live in vain.


Reviewed by:

Karah Khalia

Added 22nd May 2018

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Karah Khalia