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As a lightning bolt of illumination splits the sky, a thunderclap of enlightenment follows.
Somewhere around 1999 or the early 2000s I went with a group of co-workers to an early show at the now-defunct, sorely-missed Manhattan nightclub, The Bottom Line.
In an effort to pin down the exact date of the show, I checked the "Timelinea€? on the Bottom Line website that lists the performers for each show. Although he couldna€™t answer my question (a€?There were so many appearances!a€?), he was eager to weigh in with his own recollections and praise. Later, her father graduated from Rutgers University and began teaching in the New Jersey public school system. At nine years old, Janis heard Odetta for the first time on a Harry Belafonte television show. In junior high, shea€™d go to Greenwich Village, meeting with others from camp, to stand around the fountain in Washington Square Park and sing. Her father subscribed to Broadside Magazine which published songs by people like Bob Dylan and Buffy Sainte-Marie. Her recording career got its rocket-propelled start after she wrote a€?Societya€™s Child (Baby, Ia€™ve Been Thinking)a€? based on her observation of an interracial couple.
The psychological battering from pressure to constantly write, tour and record, and the disintegration of her family took its toll.
While we cannot be sure that poem was written exactly during that time, it seems to capture her frame of mind.
She played a tough weeklong gig in California, but realized that the weather and atmosphere was what she needed. The album Stars (1974) was followed by her biggest success, Between the Lines (1975) which contained the song a€?At Seventeen,a€? another revealing tract that cut so deep, she was initially afraid to play it to audiences.
In 1982, feeling depleted, Janis walked away from a multi-million-dollar record deal with Columbia which had three more albums contracted. In 1986, her new publisher MCA suggested that Janis work with Nashville writers to improve the marketability of her songs.
The years of being a workaholic caught up with her and she became ill with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS). As she finally regained the upper ground in her battle with CFS, Patricia Snyder came into her life, bringing her physical and emotional comfort.
The initial album coming out of this period, Breaking Silence, would be her first in ten years.
The book describes in detail the relationships Janis has had, over the years, with both men and women.
Janis had been approached by the gay-oriented magazine, The Advocate to write a monthly column for them.
After her moma€™s death, to honor her, Janis established Pearla€™s Foundation, a scholarship fund to help people in their efforts to seek higher education, Her mother had forged ahead and graduated from Goddard College, in spite of her illness, fulfilling a lifelong dream.
Janisa€™s most recent albums, God and the FBI (2000), Billiea€™s Bones (2004) and Folk is the New Black (2006) show that her writing is still razor-sharp. Those of us who have been fortunate to stand face to face with Janis will never forget the steady gaze behind which sits one of the formidable minds of our generation. I was shocked to discover how little I actually knew about Janis Ian.A  It wasna€™t until I picked up a copy of her autobiography, Societya€™s Child, that I understood the full depth of Janisa€™s connection to folk music.
The FBI would shape her early life.A  Her family was already being scrutinized before she was born.
The book describes in detail the relationships Janis has had, over the years, with both men and women.A  What was horrific about most of Janisa€™s earlier relationships was the amount of betrayal her partners displayed. For those who have been following Fatima Al Qadiri, Brute isn’t unfamiliar territory. That being said, Al Qadiri works perceptively, preferring a kind of sonic precision to a more wholesale sound.
Kladzyk’s performances are not to be missed, an essential piece to the realm that is Ziemba.
Moss’ latest album, We Are Not The First, is the result of a collaboration among some formidable forces.
Admittedly, however, Moss’ conversation style says more about his music than I could ever think to say. I wanted people to see the whole thing, with the store that only sells the 40-ounces, with the packaged meats, with the junk food. For music so resonant, it is odd to think that it does not resonate with all pairs of ears.
Largely thanks to underground-approved labels such as Erased Tapes and figureheads such as Nils Frahm, modern classical piano composition that's lingering in that delicate spot between chamber music and pop has had a bit of a resurgence as of late.
After our smashing first edition last December, our Berghain Kantine night in collaboration with the admirable Kometenmelodien returns this Thursday, December 3. On the second single from her debut album, Anna Meredith sweeps listeners into a frantic ride. Lured by a bill that included Tom Paxton and Janis Ian, we knew we were in for an evening of top-notch folk music. She took center stage and began playing fingerstyle guitar with an almost impossibly pristine sound. I know that earlier in my life -- through my 20s possibly into my 50s, I viewed her as a pop artist with a social conscience. A precocious toddler, Janis writes that her father used to say, a€?Janis started talking at seven months and never stopped.a€? At two-and-a-half years old, she persuaded her father, also a master music teacher, to give her piano lessons.
The FBI would contact each school administration every two years when hea€™d be up for tenure.
With her fathera€™s guitar perched on her lap in the back of the family station wagon, she played it for them.
Janis made a lead sheet like those in the magazine, added the melody, chords and lyrics, put her name and phone number on the page and submitted a€?Hair of Spun Gold.a€? Two months later, her father got a call from the editors. Janis took guitar lessons with the Reverend Gary Davis, and after the lessons morphed into social occasions, began hanging out with him. She played regularly after that, which got her noticed and led to a meeting with legendary producer a€?Shadowa€? Morton.
Chapters dealing with their separation and divorce and Janisa€™s emotional upheaval are particularly sad.
All the Seasons of Your Mind (1967) sold enough to make the national charts, but followup albums, The Secret Life of J. Harrowing passages describe how a diligent psychotherapist there, Gerry Weiss, pulled her back from near death and personally nursed her back to health.
It was provoked partly by a critic referring to her, still a teenager, as a a€?washed-up has-been.a€? It was also partly inspired when she heard Don McLeana€™s a€?Vincenta€? for the first time.
She needed to get off the merry-go-round to explore other areas of life, to regenerate her resources.


She had talent and wrote deep songs but Nashville writers had the craft to make them more commercial. After she declared her homosexuality, he stood by her and issued an authoritative warning to anyone who might give her trouble: a€?Dona€™t mess with hera€¦a€? He would bolster her confidence in her guitar playing, stressing her individuality.
Tragically, her mother, Pearl, had become ill with Multiple Sclerosis and would decline over a 20-year span. She refused, saying a€?I dona€™t write prose,a€? but Pat and an editor provided the idea that Janis would poke holes in the stuffiness of its image and that concept sealed the deal. Janisa€™s father owned every copy of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction ever printed. Janisa€™s stint as a columnist for Performing Songwriter plumbed her depth of knowledge of the music business.
An initial auction of Janisa€™s own personal effects, held on the internet, brought in a total of $66,000.
I also became aware of the route by which she developed her sense of social justice, and the emotional, physical and financial hurdles she has overcome. Her father, then a chicken farmer, was inexplicably picked up by FBI agents after attending a meeting about the price of eggs. Her marriage to her husband descended into physical abuse, psychotic behavior and Janisa€™s near-murder at his hands. The track represents one of Al Qadiri’s most successful forays into the phantasmagoric.
A point along the way in what will hopefully be a series of far-reaching breakthroughs in Al Qadiri’s work.
It’s all too easy to place Ziemba in a reductive category of women making otherworldly performance-based pop music, a legacy pioneered by Suzanne Ciani, Kate Bush, and many other varied and prolific artists.
With today’s release of The Longest Night on this One Habitable Star, a holiday EP available for free download via Bandcamp, comes a Texmas Tour.
He is quick-moving, continually on to the next thing, and somehow manages to both over- and under-explain most things. I do not understand what goes on beyond the boundary that separates my tastes and tuning from what the orchestra graciously creates. He sounded amused as he recounted the reactions of colleagues when they discovered how well Janis played guitar. My longest-standing memory was (and still is) the way I would get choked up listening to a€?At Seventeen,a€? especially during the ache-filled refrain, a€?a€¦who call to say, come dance with mea€¦a€? Ahh, yesa€¦ Ia€™d had my share of a€?wallflowera€? years and there were more than a few missed dances. It ended a year later because, at three, she was already getting into arguments with him over interpretations and fingering. In kindergarten she objected to learning her a€?ABCa€™sa€? because she already knew how to read.
Theya€™d see interracial and gay couples while being totally ignored by adults -- a completely opposite atmosphere from conservative New Jersey. She did one more album, Uncle Wonderful (1983) with an Australian publisher, then walked away from the music business. She discovered that her a€?accountanta€? (a bookkeeper without a proper CPA) had embezzled her money and falsely represented her income tax payments.
She teamed with accomplished songwriter Kye Fleming both creatively and romantically and found some success and some brief happiness.
At the time of the printing of her autobiography, $300,000 had been raised.This preceded, but could have functioned as a road map for eBay.
Hunger (1997), completed after a difficult studio experience and filled with glittering gems from start to finish, has become a personal favorite of mine.
Janis has finally found happiness in a stable 20-year relationship, a testament to her resilience and intelligence. I would argue, however, that as much as Al Qadiri has mastered an agile, fit-for-battle sound, the subtleties in her work have continued to multiply, making Brute an album whose true value is only apparent on the third or fourth listen.
The oddness of the time signature is particularly evident against the spareness of the composition.
A powerful composer indeed, Al Qadiri replaces the sonically uninhabited (the pause, the break, the interlude) with something much more lively: the spirit world.
Still, this likeness is evident watching Ziemba use her performance as a vehicle to lingering fantasy, her eyes piercing the crowd, demanding to be seen on her terms. Check out Ziemba live, stream the EP exclusively below, and watch for a debut full-length in 2016. He tells me that when he’s on tour, he often keeps to himself, preferring to stay in his hotel room until the next show.
The door is propped open with a door peg, a signaling invitation established by someone at an earlier time who is typically marked as thoughtful and at times shy. Watch the masterfully shot video for LP standout "Shadow Land Part II" below, an unpretentiously constructed fragment of simple yet effective beauty. The multi-instrumentalist and composer from Scotland makes an stridently confident statement with this single. Then, Gary insisted that Janis open for him at a Gaslight Cafe gig and the owner reluctantly agreed after Gary threatened to walk out.
Shadow disagreed with her a€?Baby, Ia€™ve Been Thinkinga€? title, so when her first record came out, it became a€?Societya€™s Child,a€? with the prior title in parentheses.
Although it brought a halt to her relationship with Peter, they remain friends to this day. The albums Aftertones (1975), Miracle Row (1978), Night Rains (1979), and Restless Eyes (1981) followed. Janis found it liberating to study in areas, such as ballet, where she had no innate ability. She attended her first Worldcon, the largest gathering of science fiction writers and fans, at the prodding of two of her heroes in the genre, Mike Resnick and Anne McCaffrey. Her article on a€?The ABCs of being the Boss,a€? geared toward musicians, contains a wealth of helpful information for anyone in a supervisory capacity.
The agents would hang around, always recognizable in their black suits and ties, even in the heat of August. The albums Aftertones (1975),A  Miracle Row (1978), Night Rains (1979), and Restless Eyes (1981) followed.
Of course, by now, Al Qadiri enthusiasts are already well-acquainted with that Casio keyboard-reminiscent vocal instrument that the composer so often uses, and has used throughout her body of work.
What makes women reject organic sounds, or further, reject our very bodies that betray within heteropatriarchy? I quite like thinking about Moss’ often hectic House-meets-noise experiments in terms of comfort, perhaps because his music may very well belie any chance of it. On the one hand, there are motifs that seem to appear and reappear, perhaps to the point of belaboring them.
They was trying to get it more on a cerebral level, along with the vernacular of the lyrics.


We are shown his throbbing absorption of this bizzare display, and try to understand it on his behalf. On Thursday, she will present material from her criminally overlooked EP Baby Part One, which was released by Rinse FM in June.
There’s a joy and punk spirit in the way she structures the space and progressively builds momentum within her songs, previously seen on her bombastically brassy "Nautilus" single.
After her mom had a talk with the principal, Janis was allowed to read while the rest of the class did their drills. She practiced, listening to all the records in her parentsa€™ collection, plus some borrowed from family members.
A huge success in Japan, she became an iconic star and was (and still is) treated like royalty there.
She also studied acting under Stella Adler, who became a close friend and mentor until Stellaa€™s death in 1992. An avaricious IRS agent appropriately named Granite seemed to take sadistic pleasure in erecting barriers to Janisa€™s attaining any kind of solvency, despite her complete cooperation. After the relationship ended, although Kye, a Nashville native felt awkward, Janis felt that Nashville had become a€?home,a€? and decided to move there permanently.
They pushed her to involve a number of other authors to contribute to Stars, a compilation book of short stories based on her songs.
Also available is the article Janis wrote for Performing Songwriter, on the free downloading phenomenon, a€?The Internet Debacle.a€? When she reported that downloading actually increased sales, not the opposite, as the record industry had charged, she was called a traitor.
She practiced,A  listening to all the records in her parentsa€™ collection, plus some borrowed from family members.
Peter became her love, her rock, an oasis inside of the whirlwind.A  On the music trail, she became friends with stars such as Janis Joplin and Jimi Hendrix, who tried to protect her from drugs, but the proximity led to some experimentation. Utilizing a vocal sample of retired LAPD sergeant Cheryl Dorsey, for example, Al Qadiri constructs a most delicate patchwork of grime, ghosts, and racial phantasmagoria. But her work as Ayshay and multiple tracks throughout Brute suggest that Al Qadiri is well on her way to reinventing the use of the voice in contemporary music.
And do we turn to futurist music to, if only for a moment, cope with this broken world and experience a paradise utopia? There are hints being tossed your way, but no questions being answered, no inclusive or explanatory language on offer. The beaten-out urgent live drum halfway-through is thrilling set against her intergalactic dance. A local librarian helped Janis a€?retain her sanitya€? by allowing her to take out more books than the usual allotment and picked out more advanced works for her to read. At the Village Gate, she played alongside some of her heroes (sitting between Tom Paxton and Len Chandler) and, after each song, she got a standing ovation. Although she still wrote, and had songs covered by others, she issued no recordings for around 10 years.
After sixteen years, the magazine has just ended its publication, but for eight years, Janis imparted her wisdom to the songwriter community.
She started making some of her songs available as free downloads and watched her sales shoot up.
One might say that Al Qadiri is at her best in the mode of the soundtrack, Brute being a kind of soundtrack whose central violence revolves around police brutality. It turns on itself not to deliver some kind of transphobic message about staying the born anatomy and assigned gender, but rather to playfully convey the arbitrariness of gender and, yes, even our anatomical cis-selves.
I thought about how I might up the ante, ask questions that Moss himself would find challenging – but there was no need. But if I was given a chance to give my take, I would actually put a narrative to it so people could identify with it. Thus, I do not feel fear, regret, or rebelliousness when it comes to my reluctance with Bing & Ruth. In school, her fellow students at the High School for Performing Music and Art were respectful.
As a result, Al Qadiri’s concern with the melody-as-sentence becomes all the more lucid.
Having that said, Joey reassures us that "a rectum is a rectum is a rectum." We can change our bodies until the cows come home, but, like this euphemism which speaks for a comforting, basic truth, we all still need to poop from time to time.
We sat there slack-jawed as Janis unleashed a barrage of guitar histrionics that crossed a line -- to borrow a phrase from Star Trek -- where no folkie has ever gone before.
Once a week, past her bedtime, shea€™d secretly listen to a folk show out of Newark at 10pm, a towel stuffed under the door to avoid being heard. In the first tale, a€?Come Dance With Me,a€? Janis herself makes a thinly veiled appearance.
This special consideration for the melody is, in my mind, what separates Al Qadiri from the pack.
Jealous of her success, they penalized her for absences resulting from performing, even though she got good grades on tests. Janisa€™s own story, a€?Second Person Unmasked,a€? not unsurprisingly deals with a shifting sexuality and the issue of powerlessness.
And if you haven’t already seen it, be sure to watch the video that spurred the majority of our conversation, embedded below. I would show somebody, say, that's poor in the rural parts of the Appalachians or like Tennessee or Kentucky, and show where they gotta shop to get food.
Asked in a later interview if she had any regrets, she replied, a€?Not for an eighth of a second.a€? She always knew there was no place for a person like her in the American school system. Perhaps I admire this music's type of low-impact commerce yet significance in which it is taken in by others. You do your research, a lot of those people who live in a mountain lifestyle, they hunt, they kill what they eat. Look at the whole weird dynamic of people, how they live and try to survive on this planet. Because the one thing is about perception is you might have other people go, oh, here go these Black folks crying wolf again. And whole point is, no – because my whole perception until 2001, when I was hanging out with my ex-girlfriend in Germany, I hung out at a whole town that was nothing but projects, as far as I knew.
So, I hung out with her and her friends in his garage rehearsing and then we went to where he lived at, and when we got there, there had to have been like fifty, sixty buildings as far as I could see that was bald. I was just like, You gotta understand where I come from, we had always been projected that this was a Black thing, this was a Black problem. When they go to downtown Chicago, they have to dress up in they Sunday suit like they going to Paris or something and all they going is five miles away.



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