She has been making memorable and impactful music since she was in her teens. And while her latest accolade stands evenly matched with many she has already earned, folk music legend Janis Ian is content to continue making art for creativity’s sake.

Since the release of her first recordings in the ’60s, Ian has earned a reputation for honest and lived-in music, poetry and prose that can be popular and push the envelope.

Ian, born Janis Eddy Fink in Farmingdale, N.J., has independently served as a voice of a free-thinking generation by just being herself and sharing her messages through her work.

“I have never thought of myself as an artist that aimed to be impactful,” Ian said. “I just feel like it’s about talent and creating art. I’m in it for the expression.”

In the course of expressing herself over the years, she has racked up a resume filled with numerous distinctions and awards for her thought-provoking and honest contributions to the world’s creative climate. The newest honor she has received is proof that even decades after her first recording, she still has a vital message to share.

This year, Ian has earned her ninth Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for the audio book of her autobiography, “Society’s Child.”

Named after her ground-breaking debut single, Ian shares this nomination with a very distinct collection of fellow nominees. The nominees include former President Bill Clinton, current first lady, Michelle Obama, comedian and television personality Ellen Degeneres and political commentator, Rachel Maddow.

“It’s pretty cool just to be nominated. It’s interesting that the nominees are all sort of democratic too,” Ian said with a laugh. “I don’t think I have a chance in hell of beating them but they are all great and it’s an honor to be named among them.”

Many of her fans might be quick to disagree.

For Ian, this is not her first trip to the Grammy’s. In 1975 she earned her first golden gramophone for her folk hit “At Seventeen” and has managed to produce a steady stream of work in various creative genres well into the 21st century.

With a distinctive voice and gift for lyricism, Ian has had hits that post among popular music while still maintaining the roots and content of music connected with so much more.

She is noted for being as real and honest with her music as she is with her life and relationships. On par with her honest creative life, Ian made headlines when she came out as a member of the GLBT community in 1993. She is currently residing in Nashville with her partner Patricia Snyder, a Nashville-area attorney.

“I’ve never written the kind of music that lends itself to being able to hide,” Ian said. “I don’t think I could be so honest and open in my work and be something different in my life.”

Ian has always placed emphasis on telling richer stories that resonate beyond just being entertainment and branches into work that impacts people that happen to be tuned in.

As with the current audio book that has earned her newest round of attention, Ian maintains that she will continue to use her gift of talent to tell stories that matter to her and people living their lives every day. To her she is making art for the sake of producing work that is creative.

“The opportunity to express myself in my work is what has kept me working over the years. I really do enjoy it.”
 

Photo courtesy of Red Bull

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