Janis Joplin: Rise up Singing

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Forty years after her death, Janis Joplin remains among the most compelling and influential figures in rock-and-roll history. Her story—told here with depth and sensitivity by author Ann Angel—is one of a girl who struggled against rules and limitations, yet worked diligently to improve as a singer. It’s the story of an outrageous rebel who wanted to be loved, and of a wild woman who wrote long, loving letters to her mom. And finally, it’s the story of one of the most iconic ...

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Forty years after her death, Janis Joplin remains among the most compelling and influential figures in rock-and-roll history. Her story—told here with depth and sensitivity by author Ann Angel—is one of a girl who struggled against rules and limitations, yet worked diligently to improve as a singer. It’s the story of an outrageous rebel who wanted to be loved, and of a wild woman who wrote long, loving letters to her mom. And finally, it’s the story of one of the most iconic female musicians in American history, who died at twenty-seven.

Janis Joplin includes more than sixty photographs, and an assortment of anecdotes from Janis’s friends and band mates. This thoroughly researched and well-illustrated biography is a must-have for all young artists, music lovers, and pop-culture enthusiasts.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Angel (Such a Pretty Face), an admitted Joplin fan, pens a fast-paced biography of the iconic singer's short life and tragic demise with an undercurrent of homage. Over 10 chapters, the dichotomous nature of the 1960s star emerges--as a self- destructive, renegade rocker and an insecure, attention-craving young woman--and readers come away with a good sense of both. Evocative writing describes Joplin's world: from her struggles in her confining Texas hometown to the San Francisco hippie scene and her performances. "Her voice purred and rose in a wail that sent shivers through the crowd. She swung her hair and stomped her foot, moaning.... And then her voice escalated in a keening scream." Personal photographs, album covers, and playbills flesh out Joplin's life story (b&w photographs show a young Joplin in a church choir and elementary school operetta, while a later image depicts the singer, a breast bared, in bed with partially nude bandmates). Recalling motifs from that era, curlicue graphics overlay vivid colors to create vertical borders. A time line, source notes, bibliography, and index conclude this tribute to a complicated pioneer. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)
Children's Literature - Jennifer Waldrop
Janis Joplin: Rise up Singing is a beautiful tribute to the legendary singer who died in October 1970, forty years before this biography was published. Despite her music career barely spanning three years, her legacy has clearly lived on, as evidenced by the 128 pages of photographs, letters, and interviews with her friends contained within this book. The story of Janis Joplin, while not unfamiliar to older generations, is a vivid cautionary tale for younger readers who are discovering her story for the first time. Even those familiar with Janis Joplin will be interested in the interviews and photographs that accompany her life story. The book, while engrossing, could stand to be slightly less repetitive, for instance the first chapter, "Spreading Her Wings," and the second chapter, "Out of Port Arthur," both recount her childhood and the various ways in which she did not fit in. Overall, however, it is a great read. Reviewer: Jennifer Waldrop
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—It was 40 years ago this October that the rock singer died from an overdose of alcohol and drugs at the age of 27. From interviews with her friends and letters that Joplin wrote home, Angel pieces together her subject's short life, contrasting her conservative upbringing in a small Texas town with the wild 1960s, vividly portrayed both in descriptions and in excellent-quality, full-color and black-and-white photos on almost every page. Joplin's husky, passionate singing voice was appreciated by other musicians and by her audiences. She loved to sing the blues with the misery and pain that dominated the lyrics. Bessie Smith and Odetta were her heroines. The author points out that despite the fame and fortune that she achieved, Joplin was basically insecure and in need of acceptance. This book is well researched with more than 100 notes referring to specific quotes from friends, family, and magazines. Teens will be intrigued by the life of this cult figure. Her memory has been kept alive by her recordings and an off-Broadway show, Love, Janis, based on letters she wrote to family and friends during her career, which continues to be staged throughout the country.—Peggy Fleming, formerly at Churchville-Chili High School, Churchville, NY
Kirkus Reviews
At the time when wholesome singers like Debbie Boone were on the radio, girls from Janis Joplin's hometown of Port Arthur, Texas, were expected to marry their high-school boyfriends. Joplin, however, preferred to draw and listen to folk and blues music. Pursuing a life of freedom and art, Joplin traveled from Texas to California, where she nursed her talent and carved out a life as a singer. Joplin was intelligent, honest and a bold pioneer for women in music, but she was also devastatingly insecure, a trait that contributed to her drug addiction and death by overdose. Angel showcases the rise of hippie culture and how its ideals of creative expression appealed to Joplin. Quotes from Joplin's loved ones and photographs (both color and black-and-white) chronicling her life are set against geometric designs in '60s psychedelic colors, which add interest and appeal without distracting. Young music buffs will gain an understanding of Joplin's place in pop culture and how, even with her career cut short, she paved the way for today's female rock musicians. (Biography. 14 & up)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780810983496
  • Publisher: Abrams, Harry N., Inc.
  • Publication date: 10/1/2010
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 421,494
  • Age range: 14 - 17 Years
  • Lexile: 1170L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.30 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Ann Angel is the author of six biographies and works of criticism. She graduated from Vermont College’s MFA program in writing for children, and she works as an author and educator, focusing on young adults. She was the editor for Abrams’s Such a Pretty Face. She lives in Brookfield, Wisconsin. Visit her online at www.annangelwriter.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 24, 2014

    Janis Joplin was truly an iconic rocker who left a great legacy.

    Janis Joplin was truly an iconic rocker who left a great legacy. Her story is one of flawed heroes and cautionary tales.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 7, 2011

    Great biography for young Janis fans

    This well-researched biography of Janis Joplin starts at her high school in Port Arther, Texas and follows her life and career to their untimely end a little over 10 years later. It's full of (awesome) pictures, is not bogged down by the recitation of dates, has a great bibliography for further reading, a chronology, and a brief index. It is a biography that you can give, with confidence, to teens looking for more information on a great artist or someone interesting to write about for an assignment.

    But Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing is more than the average biography. Angel brings Joplin to life. She manages to balance personal Janis and rockstar Janis on the page, something real life Janis always struggled with. The result is a history of the era and environment that produced Joplin the icon, as well as the story of how normal kids, like Joplin, dealt with all the changes the 60s brought about. Anecdotes from Joplin's friends and band mates appear throughout the text as do professional pictures of Joplin and her bands. The most quoted person in the book is Laura, Joplin's little sister. Sex, drugs and rock n'roll are definitely present in the book, and the over the top drug use is discussed, but Angel shows that Joplin's drug use was never her biggest problem. It was Joplin's need for love and attention that drove her to perform, and it was her fans' love of her drugged-up persona that drove her to use.

    But it was Joplin's voice that made her a success, and somehow that comes through on the page. Maybe it was just that I had "Piece of My Heart" and "Me and Bobby McGee" stuck in my head for most of the time I spent reading this book (until "Mercedes Benz" was mentioned of course), but I thought Angel conveyed the grit and soul of Joplin's voice amazingly. Readers will be clamouring to find copies of Joplin's music with her various bands after reading this, if that music wasn't what prompted them to pick up this biography in the first place. If it was, they'll be singing along.

    Book source: ARC picked up at ALA

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2010

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