White Girls with Black Voices
Janis grew up as an outcast. She was overweight and unpopular; but it was her childhood experiences that lead her to a career as a singer. Joplin hung out with the black kids in her segregated home town in Texas and they put her on to blues singer Bessie Smith and Leadbelly. Joplin later said her sound was influenced by these musicians. And it worked, this 60’s wild child had a voice that couldn’t be ignored. And although she was screaming at us in her hit song, “Cry Baby,” the intense blend pain and fieriness made us nod along instead of plug our ears. Not only was she influenced by African Americans, she supported their causes. That’s quite soulful, wouldn’t you agree?