Discussion » Questions » Music » What might be an appropriate simile for Janis Joplin's singing voice?

What might be an appropriate simile for Janis Joplin's singing voice?



She was just so extraordinary. I've heard her described, unsurprisingly, as "electrifying," which on the one hand is fitting and on the other nowhere near close enough.

Posted - March 15, 2019

Responses


  • 1424
    I feel like focusing on her bad habits too much is doing her something of a disservice; regardless of personal turmoils, her voice is principally a result of talent and dedication, surely. There is something inherently 'forced' about any singing--it's not as though operatic singers sound like that when ordering tea--but one can move through it with elegance, and for all Janis's rawness, she executes it entirely fluently.

    Not that you necessarily meant it so; but her style isn't imitative either, much as certain black singers certainly inspired Janis. It stands complete in its own right.
      March 20, 2019 12:28 PM MDT
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  • 6098
    Well may have been just bad habits but I would guess she was more calculated in them in that they got her where she wanted to go.  I really didn't know anyone even listened to her any longer. She was meaningful to people maybe ten years older than me but to us she was just pretty raw and old-fashioned and dowdy.  I remember songs on the radio of hers I like - Take a Piece of My Heart which was very popular and I guess she got that from an Irma or Carolyn Franklin record. And Combination of Two.  Those were the only ones I liked.  But I was only 11 when they came out.  Much better singers at that time than her. 
      March 22, 2019 7:33 AM MDT
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  • 1424
    Hehe, I think I need to disagree both in that it was certainly not only the drugs that shaped her, and in that I would nevertheless not describe Janis as calculated in any way--unfortunately.

    Given that I'm yet to turn 25, and there's the example of teenage Courtney Hadwin above, Janis's music definitely carries on. Probably more so than many a 'better' singer. Don't be fooled by her usual roughness; she could be a very smooth mezzo-soprano: hear, for instance, her closing notes in this song.




      March 22, 2019 2:20 PM MDT
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  • 16336
    At what stage in her career? Early it was pure, late it could be harsh and screeching, or sultry and mellow, depending on the song and how out of it she was. A white Billie Holliday, who also destroyed herself with substance abuse.
      March 20, 2019 7:32 PM MDT
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  • 1424
    Hard to speak of a late stage in the career of someone who died at 27. Abuse aside, how do she and Billie Holiday compare? Billie's vocal sensibility I adore in a very different manner.
      March 22, 2019 2:24 PM MDT
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  • 16336
    21-year-old Joplin's voice was a very different instrument to the one she had at 26. Hoarse and thready by times, drugs did to her what they did to Billie but quicker. 
      March 22, 2019 5:03 PM MDT
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  • 6098
    Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Carmen MacCrae, Grace Slick, Judy Collins, Koko Taylor, Karen Carpenter, Ketty Lester, the women in Joy of Cooking, Linda Ronstadt, Dolly Parton, Bonnie Raitt - to name a few.  All around late 60s - early 70s and all much better singers. Carol Sloane - great! This post was edited by officegirl at March 25, 2019 7:42 PM MDT
      March 25, 2019 7:42 PM MDT
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