Janis grew up in an all-black neighborhood in East Orange, New Jersey. With the exception of a weekly Folk music program, all she listened to for years was an R&B station out of Newark. It wasn't until she was 13 or 14 that she started listening to The Beach Boys and The Beatles.
Her birth name was Janis Eddy Fink. She changed it when she was 13 and started performing. "Ian" is her brother's middle name.
She was a big part of the New York City folk scene at a very young age. Her first single, "Society's Child," was a hit when she was 15.
She took piano lessons when she was 2, but gave it up. By the time she was 10, she was teaching herself how to play guitar.
In 1971, she became the first musical guest on Saturday Night Live. She had strep throat and a fever that night.
She turned down a slot at the original Woodstock.
A prolific songwriter, Roberta Flack had a hit with her song "Jesse" in 1973. Janis has also written commercial jingles, including songs for McDonalds, AT&T, Budweiser, and Coke.
Janis has written many magazine articles, including a regular column for Performing Songwriter magazine. She got a lot of attention for taking the stand that Internet file sharing is good for most musicians. She has sold a lot more records and merchandise since Napster and other services have made her songs available for download.
She started the Pearl Foundation (named after her mother) to offer scholarships for college.
In 2003, she married her girlfriend: Nashville defense lawyer Patricia Snyder. The ceremony took place in Toronto, where gay marriages are legal.
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