Janis Ian is a singer/songwriter who has had a long career that included two songs in the pop top 15, in two different decades.
She was born Janis Eddy Fink in New York City in 1951, and raised in New Jersey. Her father, Victor Fink, was a music teacher and young Janis learned to play a variety of musical instruments. She studied piano at age 3, guitar at 11, and wrote her first song Hair Of Spun Gold at 12. At 13 she assumed the stage name Janis Ian, borrowing the last name from the middle name of her brother Eric.
At 13 Janis wrote and recorded what would become her first hit song, Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking). The song was about an interracial love affair, and it would prove to be quite controversial. She brought it to the attention of young record producer George "Shadow" Morton, who was having success producing records for the Shangri-Las at the time. Morton released the song on three separate occasions in the mid-60's and after it was featured on a television program by Leonard Bernstein, the release on the Verve label climbed the pop chart to #14 in the summer of 1967. Some radio stations refused to play it, and Ian -- 16 years old at the time -- received hate mail and even some death threats. She was now an established recording star.
Janis continued writing songs and released the first of what would be many albums. In the late 60's her albums, all on Verve, included Janis Ian, For All the Seasons of Your Mind, The Secret Life of J. Eddy Fink, and Who Really Cares. She left the music business for a while at age 19 but simply could not refrain from writing. She returned to the album chart in 1974 with Stars, and followed that the next year with her #1 album Between The Lines. The second one included Janis' second and last huge single hit, At Seventeen. The lyrics reflected Janis' anxiety at seeing the popular, pretty girls in school draw all the attention and the cruelty that adolescents could inflict on one another, and it struck a chord with the record-buying public, rising to #3 pop. At Seventeen won Janis Ian a Grammy Award.
She had gained world-wide acceptance, and was especially well received in Japan. She continued songwriting, performing and releasing albums through the 70's, 80's, and 90's and into the 21st century; her most recent album, Revenge, was issued in 2006. Janis is a private pilot, and is an avid reader of science fiction. She has written science fiction short stories and appeared at science fiction conventions. In 2008 her book Society's Child: My Autobiography was published by Tarcher/Penguin, and she maintains a web site at www.janisian.com. In recent years Janis has made her home in Nashville.
The Grammy winning songstress has accomplished much in her music career and is most closely associated with her two giant hits, Society's Child (Baby I've Been Thinking) in 1967 and At Seventeen in 1975.
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