It looks like Janis Ian is almost ready to hang up her mic after a career spanning over 50 years. She has already announced that her latest studio album, “The Light at the End of the Line”, will be her last solo studio recording. And her current tour, titled “Celebrating Our Years Together,” for which she will stop at The Magnolia Theater in El Cajon, will also be her final North American tour in 2022.
Ian has been a figure in folk music since he was a teenager. She was born in 1951 in Farmingdale, NJ Her career was heavily influenced by folk icons like Joan Baez and Odetta. By the age of 14, Ian was already writing his own songs, putting his own spin on the activist sounds of the 60s and 70s.
The singer rose to fame in 1967 at the age of 15. She released her self-titled debut album that year, which spawned the hit single “Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking)”. The song dealt with a teenage interracial relationship, a subject still taboo at the time. This would define Ian’s music career, as his songs were all about social justice. Ian proved at this young age that she was not afraid to take risks in her career.
His next hit song wouldn’t come until 1975 in the form of “At Seventeen”, a song about the trials and pressures of adolescence. In 1976, Ian beat musical luminaries such as Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John and Helen Reddy at the Grammys for Best Pop Vocal Performance – Female.
During his legendary career, Ian has won accolades and inspired future artists. Ian has been nominated for nine Grammy Awards and won two: the aforementioned for ‘At Seventeen’ and Best Spoken Word Recording in 2013 for his book ‘Society’s Child: My Autobiography’. Ian’s songwriting has spawned hits like ‘Jesse’, ‘Stars’ and ‘In The Winter’ and has been covered by artists like Roberta Flack, Joan Baez, Nina Simone, Cher and Mel Tormé.
Simone, in particular, was a particularly strong figure in Ian’s life. On her latest album, the song “Nina” is about their complicated friendship.
Other songs from his latest album deal with universal themes: the trials of aging, the right to stand up for what you believe in, the beauty of knowing who you really are. It’s a wide-ranging album that fully encompasses where Ian comes from and shows who she is today.
Today, Ian lives in Nashville with his wife, Patricia Snyder, whom she married in 2003. She is also a stepmother and grandmother.
Janis Ian: Celebrating Our Years Together Tour
When: 8 p.m. Sunday
Or: The Magnolia, 210 E. Main St., El Cajon
Tickets: From $35
In line: janisian.com