Janis Joplin (contributed by Ana Cubas)

To listen to Janis Joplin is to have a religious journey, to fully experience a palette of emotions within seconds. Joplin doesn’t just sing: she cries, she shouts, she sings both lovingly and sorrowfully. She leaves no room for mildly-felt feelings. She has the power, voice, and emotion of a traditional blues singer, and it’s apparent in every song she performed. For an aurally enriching example of this influence, listen to her vocals on “Kozmic Blues” on I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama! or “Raise Your Hand” from her set at Woodstock.

By watching or listening to any live performance of Joplin’s, the physical force of Joplin’s voice is obvious. My favorite is “Cry Baby.” Her voice has the kind of power that seems to take over her body, reach what you think is her peak, and then, her voice would explode. Honestly, there is no bad Joplin recording of this song. Her vocal capabilities are remarkable every time.

Her voice commands, and she commands. Joplin’s stage presence is as riveting as her voice. Many of Joplin’s live recordings are not short of entertaining both before or after the song even starts. In a Crawdaddy concert review of Big Brother & the Holding Company and Janis Joplin, the reporter recalls someone shouting, “Hey, which one of you is Big Brother?” Janis playfully responds, “I am, baby!” She was witty, confident and unafraid of rock’s male hierarchy.

Janis expressed the female experience with conviction. She continually shared her longing for liberation, equality and respect in her music, unapologetically. The honesty and moxie Joplin exuded, in recordings and on stage, engrains itself in the listener for, at least, the length of the track. She demands attention. Her voice is almost representative of the power she held as a groundbreaking woman in rock, both socially and musically.

Do yourself a favor and listen to Joplin. There is no better way to celebrate Women’s History Month!

Song Pick: Cry Baby

What's Next?

To learn about our amazing contributor, Ana Cubas, read below.  To continue your journey, head over to the CD section (Folk & County). Look for the yellow WOW CD case and scan the QR code on the back to continue your journey.  If you look up, you will also see a limited edition framed poster of our next amazing artist.  Be sure to put the WOW CD back in place for the next explorer.

About Ana Cubas

Ana Cubas grew up in Riverside and is currently a student at New York University. She is pursuing an individualized degree in music criticism and journalism, with a minor in music business. Ana is the music editor at NYU’s student newspaper, Washington Square News, and the Associate Music Director at the University’s radio station, WNYU. She also hosts a weekly radio show on South American rock from the 60s through 90s every Friday morning at https://wnyu.org.