Janis Eddy Fink (1951-1964)

She was born to a Jewish family in Farmingdale, NJ. She had been interested in music from an early age. They would eventually move to East Orange in a predominately black area.

Janis Ian (1964-)

She had her name legally changed in order to take her brother’s middle name as her surname. She would carry that name throughout her professional and personal life.

She start gaining attention in her teen years for her music.

Her break-out hit, Society’s Child, provoked a lot of controversy after it was aired on the Smothers Brothers show in 1967. The song was about an interracial couple who cannot see each other, because their relationship is frowned upon by society around the subject of the song. It was a bold move, considering how this was around the same time that the Loving v. Virginia case made interracial marriage legal across the entire United States. Thirty-five years later, the song would be inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame.

After having steady fame, she released another single At Seventeen which is about the social awkwardness of a high schooler. This song was interpreted as having a gay theme by Melissa Etheridge.

In 1993, Ian came out as a lesbian, in a relationship with Patricia Snyder for 4 years prior.

After struggling with being penniless starting in 1983, Ian focused less on music and more on acting by theatre director Stella Adler. They were close friends until Adler’s death in 1992. She would appear on the series finale of the HBO series Getting On.

She continues to make music and had appeared at the Cambridge Folk Festival in 2018.

Sources (Fontoi)

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