Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor



MUSIC Janis Ian: An icon speaks of life, music
by Blair Mishleau

This article shared 2973 times since Wed Sep 30, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Emmy Award-winning artist Janis Ian has recently released a compilation of her work so far, entitled The Essential Janis Ian. Janis chatted with Windy City Times about her music, her life and how they intersect.

Windy City Times: How would you describe your music?

Janis Ian: Social music is how I think of it: not political, not folk, not rock but social.

WCT: Who has had the greatest inspiration on your music?

JANIS IAN: Leonard Cohen and the Beatles would be two huge ones, Leonard was just one of the great lyricists of my time. Leonard and Dylan, were if you were a songwriter in my community, those were the two you'd try to beat.

WCT: What inspired you to come out?

JANIS IAN: Well, I was out, for all intents and purposes. Everyone I worked with knew. Then I fell in love with a guy. After that relationship ended … I realized that I coasted towards women. I fell in love with my partner, Pat, 20 years ago.

Urvashi Vaid from [ the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force ] thought it would be good for kids who were living in unsupportive environments to hear that the singer of at 17 was gay, so I came out.

WCT: Do you have any advice for gay and lesbian kids coming of age today?

JANIS IAN: It's a whole other world now; you can't be locked up just for being gay now. Live your life like a normal person. The sooner we start seeing and regarding ourselves as normal the sooner the world will have to view us as normal. I think we've seen that over and over now.

WCT: What is your favorite song?

JANIS IAN: I really don't have a favorite. I'm gratified when "At Seventeen" reaches people where it should reach. You hope that your work will go where it will do the most good.

WCT: Could you tell us a bit about your autobiography?

JANIS IAN: It's a really good beach read, that's what people keep telling me. They all said they picked it up and couldn't put it down. You write a book just like you write a song, and you hope that people will enjoy it. I say that if you read the first few pages and you don't like it, then put it down.

WCT: How has your music changed through the years?

JANIS IAN: As you get older, you develop confidence of a different sort. You don't sweat the small stuff so much. You get more patience with any luck. Now I know that there's going to be another show—so if my voice cracks or I can't hit the right note—I know there's another show.

I've gotten a new appreciation for live shows as I've gotten older. When I was younger there were a lot more live shows in smaller venues. Now everything is more of a hassle. There are so many live shows. It's just harder to get bang for your buck, I think.

WCT: Your music tends to be more solemn. Why is this?

JANIS IAN: I think that's just what I do well. Just like some people write funny well—I write funny very rarely. I write about things that make people uncomfortable and give them a safe space to think about such things.

WCT: What is your favorite instrument to play?

JANIS IAN: I'd say bass, but I'm terrible. I do love playing it, though.

WCT: Do you have a close second?

JANIS IAN: I love playing guitar, that's what I do.

WCT: The movie Mean Girls features your song "At Seventeen," and also features a character named Janis Ian, who is dealing with teen angst similar to the song. How does it feel to have such a homage paid to you?

I think it's great. I think it's absolutely great. I think Tina Fey did a wonderful job. When I met her after the movie she was nervous that I'd be pissed off. But I thought it was great. I mean, how often does someone get a character in a movie named after them? It's pretty rare.

WCT: Your music varies so much. Why is this?

JANIS IAN: That's just an accident of talent. I guess I just grew up listening to a lot of different music, and that comes through. It gets boring doing the same thing all the time.

WCT: So, you've even written science fiction. Why?

JANIS IAN: I've just always been a huge science fiction fan. I know a lot of science fiction authors. It's just an area of interest. If I had more time, I'd get more done, but I don't have a lot of time to get to writing these days.

I would start with the best of set- with The Essentials; I think it's a pretty good career overview. They can also go to my Web site, there's a lot of free stuff on there.

WCT: Will you be coming back to Chicago soon?

JANIS IAN: Yes, some time this year. I suggest that people come to my website and check out my tour schedule.

WCT: How do you like Chicago?

JANIS IAN: I think Chicago is great, it's the first place I got to do a stage performance, so I'm very fond of it. Then you have old town school, which is one of the best folk venues I know of.

This article shared 2973 times since Wed Sep 30, 2009
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

Local benefit concert celebrates love and freedom 2021-12-07
- The concertmaster of the Momentum Chamber Orchestra lifted her bow high and slowly brought it back down. As the bow's feathers pressed against the strings of her instrument, its gentle shrill echoed inside the small, packed ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Gaga/Bennett, 'House of Gucci,' Leslie Jordan, Murray Hill, Lil Nas X 2021-12-05
Videos below - MTV announced that the special MTV Unplugged: Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga will air on the music network Thursday, Dec. 16, according to The performance, which was filmed in New York earlier this year, features ...

Gay News

THEATER Michael Dalke makes Pretty Woman: The Musical happy and gay 2021-12-04
- The fairy-tale story of Pretty Woman was brought to life as a musical by openly gay theater director/choreographer Jerry Mitchell in 2018. He debuted the original production of Pretty Woman: The Musical premiered in Chicago at ...

Gay News

Moises Kaufman takes audiences to 'Paradise' 2021-12-03
- Paradise Square is a new musical that opened in Chicago last month at the James M. Nederlander Theatre. This is based on a true story set in New York City in 1863, when Black and Irish immigrants lived together in a ...

Gay News

Hell in a Handbag Productions to present Christmas Dearest Nov. 27-Dec. 31 2021-12-03
--From a press release - CHICAGO (December 2, 2021) — Hell in a Handbag Productions is pleased to continue its 20th anniversary season with the return of one of its most popular holiday musicals: Christmas Dearest, featuring book and lyrics by ...

Gay News

THEATER 'Wicked' returning to Chicago in 2022 2021-11-30
- The blockbuster musical Wicked will return to Broadway In Chicago's James M. Nederlander Theatre, 24 W. Randolph St., on Sept. 28-Dec. 4, 2022. Now the fifth longest-running show in Broadway history—and featuring songs such as "Popular" ...

Gay News

Billy Masters 2021-11-29
- "The obvious one would be A Little Night Music. I know I could do that role very well now that I've gotten to this stage in my life, and you know it's a beautiful song in there. It's perfection."—Sarah Brightman reveals ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Netflix, Kal Penn, Dennis Rodman, 'The Voice,' 'Euphoria' 2021-11-28
Video below - Terra Field—one of the Netflix employees who organized the walkout around Dave Chappelle's comedy special The Closer—has resigned from the streamer, Deadline reported. Field, along with B. Pagels-Minor, organized an ...

Gay News

Broadway titan Stephen Sondheim dies at 91 2021-11-27
- Stephen Sondheim, one of the giants of Broadway songwriting, died Nov. 26 at his home in Roxbury, Connecticut, according to media reports. He was 91. Among the works in the legend's oeuvre are Company (1970), Follies ...

Gay News

EVENTS John Grumpy Co. presenting 'Black Sunday' Nov. 28 2021-11-24
- John Grumpy Co. is hosting "Black Sunday," which will take place at HVAC Pub, 3530 N. Clark St., on Sunday, Nov. 28, 9 p.m.-2 a.m.. This event will feature celebrity DJ Jamal Smallz. "Black Sunday" will ...

Gay News

MUSIC Grammy nominations announced; GLAAD comments 2021-11-24
- On Nov. 23, the nominations for the 64th Annual Grammy Awards were announced. John Batiste, the musician who also serves as the bandleader on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, led among all nominees with 11 ...

Gay News

MUSIC Controversial rapper DaBaby postpones shows 2021-11-24
- DaBaby's return to touring following fallout for making anti-gay comments at the Rolling Loud music festival in Miami this past summer has been postponed, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported. The rapper's been promoting his "Live Show ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ '9-1-1,' Billie Jean King, Lena Waithe, singer Mary Lambert, White Party 2021-11-21
- Actor Rockmond Dunbar left the Fox show 9-1-1 after four seasons over a vaccine mandate, Deadline noted. His gay character, Michael Grant, was abruptly written off in the Nov. 15 episode, leaving fans of the first-responder ...

Gay News

Rainbow Railroad plans 'When I Am Free' benefit concert to get LGBTQI+s to safety 2021-11-20
--From a press release. Videos below - Chicago, IL (November 12, 2021) - The annual Chicago 5 Lives Fundraiser hosted by Rainbow Railroad is proud to return this year with "When I Am Free", a benefit concert offering attendees a premier evening of ...

Gay News

MOVIES 'Dante and Beatrice in Florence' Nov. 28-Dec. 5 2021-11-19
- Porchlight Music Theatre is partnering with Hershey Felder Presents: Live from Florence and its second season of productions. The launch of this new season from Hershey Felder is the new musical film Dante and Beatrice in ...


Copyright © 2021 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots      OUT! Guide     
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam      Outguide Categories      Outguide Advertisers      Search Outguide      Travel      Dining Out      Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.