Artist's Biography

Janis Ian

Tuned many times at her 'beach home' in Fairfield Ct. summer 1977

Rolling Stone once stated, "Before there was Jewel, there was Janis Ian." It is an apt portrayal of an artist known for her ethereal vocals, poetic wordplay, and sublime melodies. Through more than three decades, Ian has managed to keep her music fresh and inspiring, always winning praise for her remarkable songwriting and tender voice.

Raised on a farm in southern New Jersey, Ian's father and mother steeped her in classical and folk music, with a healthy dollop of jazz. She began playing the piano at age 2 ½, moving on to the guitar at 10, and writing her first song ("Hair of Spun Gold") at twelve. In 1966, at the age of 15, Ian's career exploded with the release of her controversial tale of teenage interracial love, "Society's Child". The self-penned song topped the charts and created a storm of controversy that featured Ian on The Tonight Show and in Life, Time and Newsweek. Her debut album, 1967's Janis Ian, earned Ian the first of nine Grammy nominations.

Ian soared to new heights in the 1970s with her trio of masterpiece albums: Stars, Between the Lines, and Aftertones. Stars included the hit song "Jesse," which Roberta Flack made a pop standard. Between The Lines propelled Ian to superstardom with "At Seventeen." The single sold more than a million copies, and Ian was nominated for a then-unprecedented five Grammy awards, winning two. Aftertones proved to be one of the most critically acclaimed albums of its day, garnering Ian her first Japanese hit, "Love Is Blind", which stayed at #1 for an astonishing six months.

Ian entered the '80s with the international disco hit "Fly Too High," a song featured on the soundtrack of the Jodie Foster movie Foxes. It began a successful string of projects for films (beginning with Four Rode Out in 1969, and The Bell Jar) and television (ABC Movie-of- the-Week Freedom, Murder She Wrote, The Simpsons, General Hospital, and Oz). Night Rains, the album containing "Fly Too High", also gave Ian #1 gold and platinum records in Australia, Holland, Africa, England, and a multitude of other countries.

Ian was honored again by the Recording Academy in 1981 with a Best Vocal Duet nomination for her recording with Mel Torme of Ian's composition, "Silly Habits." 

The artist whom Ella Fitzgerald called "The best young singer in America today", and of whom Chet Atkins said "You ought to listen to her play that guitar; she runs rings around me!" has no plans to slow down. 2004/2005 will find her touring throughout North America and Europe, as well as Japan and Australia. It's a grueling schedule, but one she enjoys.

Back to Hall of Fame page

 © In-Tune Productions 2005