***Winner of the 2013 Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album***
Janis Ian was catapulted into the spotlight in 1966 at age fifteen, when her soul-wrenching song about an interracial relationship, “Society’s Child,” became a hit. The song climbed the charts despite the fact that many radio stations across the country refused to play it because of its controversial subject matter. But this was only the beginning of a long and illustrious career. Society’s Child is Ian’s fascinating personal account of her more than forty years in the music business. In 1975, Ian’s legendary “At Seventeen” earned two Grammy Awards and five nominations. Her next two albums brought her worldwide platinum hits. But after seven albums in as many years, she made a conscious decision to walk away from the music business and devote herself to writing. During this period, she struggled through a difficult marriage that ended with her then husband’s attempt to destroy her, and a sudden illness that very nearly cost her her life. The hiatus from music lasted for close to a decade until, in 1993, Ian returned with the release of the Grammy-nominated Breaking Silence, and she has been making unforgettable music ever since. In Society’s Child, she provides a relentlessly honest account of the successes and failures, the hopes and dreams, of an extraordinary life.
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Janis Ian is a Grammy Award–winning songwriter, singer, and author. She lives in Nashville with her partner of two decades.From Booklist:
*Starred Review* Casual music-scene observers may see Ian and her remarkable music surfacing every decade or so, usually winning a handful of Grammy nominations. There’s a life between recording sessions, of course, that Ian describes with brutal honesty. An unusually intelligent child, she began writing songs very early, adored folk and protest singers Odetta and Joan Baez, but knew she didn’t look like or sound like them. Her idol, Baez, was tall and svelte; she was short and stocky, with stubborn, curly hair. Yet her 1966 hit “Society’s Child,” about interracial romance, brought her role-models’ kind of fame at 15, including hate mail and death threats. Less than a decade later, “At Seventeen,” an homage to outsiders and misfits, brought further fame while, offstage, she endured an abusive marriage, came out as lesbian, had IRS trouble, and battled chronic fatigue syndrome and other debilitating illnesses. Songwriting has been her way to express inner turmoil. She writes casually and conversationally about her ups and downs and the life lessons she learned. Even recounting decisions that were stupid (quite often) and bad things that happened to her (many), she keeps us on her side, hoping things eventually turn out well. Fans will love the book, of course, but many nonfans, too, should find this painfully candid memoir hard to put down. --June Sawyers
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