Porgy and Bess
Porgy and Bess is an English-language opera by the American composer George Gershwin, with a libretto written by author DuBose Heyward and lyricist Ira Gershwin. It was adapted from Dorothy Heyward and DuBose Heyward's play Porgy, itself an adaptation of DuBose Heyward's 1925 novel of the same name. Porgy and Bess was first performed in Boston on September 30, 1935, before it moved to Broadway in New York City, it featured a cast of classically trained African-American singers—a daring artistic choice at the time. After suffering from an unpopular public reception due in part to its racially charged theme, a 1976 Houston Grand Opera production gained it new popularity, it is now one of the best-known and most performed operas. Gershwin proposed to Heyward to collaborate on an operatic version. In 1934, Gershwin and Heyward began work on the project by visiting the author's native Charleston, South Carolina. In a 1935 New York Times article, Gershwin explained why he called Porgy and Bess a folk opera: Porgy and Bess is a folk tale.
Its people would sing folk music. When I first began work in the music I decided against the use of original folk material because I wanted the music to be all of one piece; therefore I wrote my own folksongs. But they are still folk music – and therefore, being in operatic form and Bess becomes a folk opera; the libretto of Porgy and Bess tells the story of Porgy, a disabled black street-beggar living in the slums of Charleston. It deals with his attempts to rescue Bess from the clutches of Crown, her violent and possessive lover, Sportin' Life, her drug dealer; the opera plot follows the stage play. In the years following Gershwin's death and Bess was adapted for smaller scale performances, it was adapted as a film in 1959. Some of the songs in the opera, such as "Summertime", became popular and recorded songs. In the late 20th and early 21st centuries, the trend has been toward productions with greater fidelity to Gershwin's original intentions. Smaller-scale productions continue to be mounted.
A complete recorded version of the score was released in 1976. In the fall of 1933 Gershwin and Heyward signed a contract with the Theatre Guild to write the opera. In the summer of 1934 Gershwin and Heyward went to Folly Beach, South Carolina, where Gershwin got a feel for the locale and its music, he worked in New York. Ira Gershwin, in New York, wrote lyrics to some of the opera's classic songs, most notably "It Ain't Necessarily So". Most of the lyrics, including "Summertime", were written by Heyward, who wrote the libretto. Gershwin's first version of the opera, running four hours, was performed in a concert version in Carnegie Hall, in the fall of 1935, he chose as his choral director Eva Jessye, who directed her own renowned choir. The world premiere performance took place at the Colonial Theatre in Boston on September 30, 1935—the try-out for a work intended for Broadway where the opening took place at the Alvin Theatre in New York City on October 10, 1935. During rehearsals and in Boston, Gershwin made many cuts and refinements to shorten the running time and tighten the dramatic action.
The run on Broadway lasted 124 performances. The production and direction were entrusted to Rouben Mamoulian, who had directed the Broadway productions of Heyward's play Porgy; the music director was Alexander Smallens. The leading roles were played by Anne Brown; the influential vaudeville artist John W. Bubbles created the role of Sportin' Life. After the Broadway run, a tour started on January 27, 1936, in Philadelphia and traveled to Pittsburgh and Chicago before ending in Washington, D. C. on March 21, 1936. During the Washington run, the cast—as led by Todd Duncan—protested segregation at the National Theatre. Management gave in to the demands, resulting in the first integrated audience for a performance of any show at that venue. In 1938, much of the original cast reunited for a West Coast revival that played in Los Angeles and at the Curran Theatre in San Francisco. Avon Long took on the role of Sportin' Life for the first time, a role he would continue to play in many productions over a long career.
The noted director and producer Cheryl Crawford produced professional stock theater in Maplewood, New Jersey, for three successful seasons. The last of these closed with Bess, which she co-produced with John Wildberg. In re-fashioning it in the style of musical theatre which Americans were used to hearing from Gershwin, Crawford produced a drastically cut version of the opera compared with the first Broadway staging; the orchestra was reduced, the cast was halved, many recitatives were reduced to spoken dialog. Having seen the performance, theater owner Lee Shubert arranged for Crawford to bring her production to Broadway; the show opened at the Majestic Theatre in January 1942. Duncan and Brown reprised their roles as the title characters, with Alexander Smallens again conducting. In June the contralto Etta Moten, whom Gershwin had first envisioned as Bess, replaced Brown in the role. Moten was such a success; the Crawford production ran for nine months and was far more successful financially than the original.
Radio station WOR in New York broadcast a live one-hour version on May 7, 1942. The cast included Todd Duncan, Anne Brown, Ruby Elzy, Avon Long, Edward Matthews, Harriet Jackson, Georgette Harvey, Jack Carr, the Eva Jesse Choir; the 12"-diameter 78 rpm, glass base, lacquer-coated disks were tr
Ira Gershwin was an American lyricist who collaborated with his younger brother, composer George Gershwin, to create some of the most memorable songs of the 20th century. With George he wrote more than a dozen Broadway shows, featuring songs such as "I Got Rhythm", "Embraceable You", "The Man I Love" and "Someone to Watch Over Me", he was responsible, along with DuBose Heyward, for the libretto to George's opera Porgy and Bess. The success the Gershwin brothers had with their collaborative works has overshadowed the creative role that Ira played, his mastery of songwriting continued, after the early death of George. He wrote additional hit songs with Kurt Weill, Harry Warren and Harold Arlen, his critically acclaimed 1959 book Lyrics on Several Occasions, an amalgam of autobiography and annotated anthology, is an important source for studying the art of the lyricist in the golden age of American popular song. Gershwin was born in New York City, the oldest of four children of Morris and Rose Gershovitz, who were Russian Jews, born in St Petersburg, who had emigrated to the US in 1891.
Ira's siblings were George and Frances. Morris changed the family name to "Gershwine". Shy in his youth, Ira spent much of his time at home reading, but from grammar school through college he played a prominent part in several school newspapers and magazines, he graduated in 1914 from Townsend Harris High School, a public school for intellectually gifted students, where he met Yip Harburg, with whom he enjoyed a lifelong friendship and a love of Gilbert and Sullivan. He dropped out; the childhood home of Ira and George Gershwin was in the center of the Yiddish Theater District, on the second floor at 91 Second Avenue, between East 5th Street and East 6th Street. They frequented the local Yiddish theaters. While George began composing and "plugging" in Tin Pan Alley from the age of 18, Ira worked as a cashier in his father's Turkish baths, it was not until 1921. Alex Aarons signed Ira to write the songs for his next show, Two Little Girls in Blue produced by Abraham Erlanger, along with co-composers Vincent Youmans and Paul Lannin.
So as not to appear to trade off George's growing reputation, Ira wrote under the pseudonym "Arthur Francis", after his youngest two siblings. His lyrics were well received, allowing him to enter the show-business world with just one show; the same year, the Gershwins collaborated for the first time on a score. It was not until 1924 that Ira and George teamed up to write the music for what became their first Broadway hit Lady, Be Good. Once the brothers joined forces, their combined talents became one of the most influential forces in the history of American Musical Theatre. "When the Gershwins teamed up to write songs for Lady, Be Good, the American musical found its native idiom." Together, they wrote the music for four films. Some of their more famous works include "The Man I Love", "Fascinating Rhythm", "Someone to Watch Over Me", "I Got Rhythm" and "They Can't Take That Away from Me", their partnership continued until George's sudden death from a brain tumor in 1937. Following his brother's death, Ira waited nearly three years before writing again.
After this temporary retirement, Ira teamed up with accomplished composers such as Jerome Kern. Over the next 14 years, Gershwin continued to write the lyrics for many film scores and a few Broadway shows, but the failure of Park Avenue in 1946 was his farewell to Broadway. As he wrote at the time, "Am reading a couple of stories for possible musicalization but I hope I don't like them as I think I deserve a long rest."In 1947, he took 11 songs George had written but never used, provided them with new lyrics, incorporated them into the Betty Grable film The Shocking Miss Pilgrim. He wrote comic lyrics for Billy Wilder's 1964 movie Kiss Me, although most critics believe his final major work was for the 1954 Judy Garland film A Star Is Born. American singer and musical historian Michael Feinstein worked for Gershwin in the lyricist's latter years, helping him with his archive. Several lost musical treasures were unearthed during this period, Feinstein performed some of the material. Feinstein's book The Gershwins and Me: A Personal History in Twelve Songs about working for Ira, George and Ira's music was published in 2012.
According to a 1999 story in Vanity Fair, Ira Gershwin's love for loud music was as great as his wife's loathing of it. When Debby Boone—daughter-in-law of his neighbor Rosemary Clooney—returned from Japan with one of the first Sony Walkmans, Clooney gave it to Michael Feinstein to give to Ira, "so he could crank it in his ears, you know, and he said,'This is wonderful!' And he called his broker and bought Sony stock!" Three of Ira Gershwin's songs were nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song, though none won. Along with George S Kaufman and Morrie Ryskind, he was a recipient of the 1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for Of Thee I Sing. In 1988 UCLA established The George and Ira Gershwin Lifetime Musical Achiev
Alexis Kochan is a Ukrainian-Canadian composer and singer. She was born in 1953 in Manitoba, to Ukrainian immigrants. Singer Alexis Kochan was raised in Winnipeg's North End, she earned a master's degree in psychology from the University of Manitoba in 1977 while studying music and beginning a multi-faceted career as singer, teacher and recording artist. In 1978-1979 she lived in Kiev, Ukraine where she studied with the Veriovka Folk Ensemble and composer/conductor Anatoly Avdievsky. While in Ukraine she began to collect old Ukrainian folk songs that she was hearing for the first time. Ms. Kochan's interest in giving new life to these archaic fragments led directly to her first recording,'Czarivna', an album of songs connected with ancient seasonal rituals, produced in 1982 with Arthur Polson and the principal players of the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra. In 1992 she formed Paris To Kyiv, a musical project with a rotating collection of musical collaborators; these include bandurist Julian Kytasty and jazz violist Richard Moody who have formed the core of Paris To Kyiv for the last ten years as well as many others such as Ukrainian saxophonist Sasha Boychouk, Persian master percussionist Pejman Hadadi, John Wyre of Nexus, Celtic multi-instrumentalist Martin Colledge and Serbian bassist Nenad Zdjelar.
Since 1994, Kochan has released four Paris To Kyiv titles: Paris To Kiev, Prairie Nights and Peacock Feathers, Fragmenti. Alexis Kochan co-directed and performed in'Night Songs from a Neighbouring Village', a program exploring the commonalities and contrasts between Ukrainian music and the musical traditions of the Jews of Ukraine.'Night Songs' was created for the Jewish Museum in 1994. Other performances have included Ashkenaz in Toronto, Tage Der Jiddischen Kultur in Berlin, the World Music Institute at Symphony Space in New York City and Yiddishkayt at the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre in Hollywood, California, her musical theatre credits include the world premiere of Warren Sulatycky's play'Babas' at the Persephone Theatre in Saskatoon in 1994, where Ms. Kochan worked with Canadian Hungarian director Tibor Feheregyhazi and performed a number of the songs from her'Czarivna' and Paris To Kyiv' recordings. Television and film rights to her work have been acquired by the CBC for'Canada: A People's History' and by the popular television series'PSI Factor' for her song'Kant'.
Most her music appears in films by Alan Pakarnyk, Danishka Esterhazy and Bobby Leigh. She has worked with Shumka and Rusalka, Canadian Ukrainian dance ensembles of international note, who have created dance works based on her songs; as an educator, Ms. Kochan has led master classes in singing and Ukrainian folk polyphony and conducted numerous workshops and music camps in Canada, the United States, Europe, she has worked with groups of women, in 2003, a group of actor/singers at the Jagiellonian University in Kraków, Poland. She speaks and writes about cultural politics and the importance of the arts in education, her special interest'ethnicity and the Ukrainian folk song'. At three Alexis became a member of her Ukrainian church choir in Winnipeg's North End. At five, she debuted as a soloist, she was selected to sing with Walter Klymkiw in the Olexander Koshetz Choir. She studied piano, completed music programs and by 13 was playing guitar and performing in folk clubs. At the University of Manitoba she studied psychology.
She began a doctorate and practiced as a psychologist for some years. In the late seventies Alexis was offered an internship in Ukraine with the Ukrainian folk music ensemble Veryovka. Shortly after this she fragments; this led to her first recording Czarivna in 1982. Produced with Arthur Polson and principal players from the Winnipeg Symphony Orchestra, the collection paired ancient ritual songs with an orchestral sound. In the early nineties Alexis formed Paris To Kyiv - a musical ensemble with a rotating collection of musicians including bandurist Julian Kytasty and jazz violist Richard Moody who have formed the core of Paris To Kyiv for the last 10 years. Alexis Kochan: Царівна «Olesia Records» Paris To Kiev: Paris To Kiev «Olesia Records» Paris To Kyiv: Variances «Olesia Records» Paris To Kyiv: Prairie Nights and Peacock Feathers «Olesia Records» Paris To Kyiv: Фраґменти Harvard and Yale Universities Carpenter Centre in Long Beach, CA French Embassy in Washington, DC University of California in Santa Barbara and at the Skirball Centre in LA Yara Arts Group of La Mama Theatre in New York City Centre for Theatre Practices in Gardzienice and Lublin, Poland Rolston Recital Hall at the Banff Centre for the Arts Ring Ring Festival in Belgrade, at the Teatr Maly in Warsaw Centrum Kultury Zydowskiej in Kraków Osrodek Badan Tworczosci Jerzego Grotowskiego i Poszukiwan Teatralno-Kulturowych in Wroclaw Dakh and Podil Theatres in Kiev Philharmonia in Chernihiv Bowery Poetry Club in New York City Nakasuk School in Iqaluit, Nunavut Christmas traditions in Ukraine History of Ukraine Minimalism Music of Ukraine Ukrainian culture Ukrainian dance Ukrainian folk music Ukrainian folklore Ukrainian language Ukrainian literature Ukrainian wedding traditions Alexis Kochan, Encyclopedia of Ukraine Olesia Records
Eleanora Fagan, better known as Billie Holiday, was an American jazz singer with a career spanning nearly thirty years. Nicknamed "Lady Day" by her friend and music partner Lester Young, Holiday had a seminal influence on jazz music and pop singing, her vocal style inspired by jazz instrumentalists, pioneered a new way of manipulating phrasing and tempo. She was known for her vocal delivery and improvisational skills, which made up for her limited range and lack of formal music education. After a turbulent childhood, Holiday began singing in nightclubs in Harlem, where she was heard by the producer John Hammond, who commended her voice, she signed a recording contract with Brunswick in 1935. Collaborations with Teddy Wilson yielded the hit "What a Little Moonlight Can Do", which became a jazz standard. Throughout the 1930s and 1940s, Holiday had mainstream success on labels such as Decca. By the late 1940s, she was beset with legal troubles and drug abuse. After a short prison sentence, she performed at a sold-out concert at Carnegie Hall, but her reputation deteriorated because of her drug and alcohol problems.
Though she was a successful concert performer throughout the 1950s with two further sold-out shows at Carnegie Hall, Holiday's bad health, coupled with a string of abusive relationships and ongoing drug and alcohol abuse, caused her voice to wither. Her final recordings were met with mixed reaction, owing to her damaged voice, but were mild commercial successes, her final album, Lady in Satin, was released in 1958. Holiday died of cirrhosis on July 17, 1959, she won four Grammy Awards, all of them posthumously, for Best Historical Album. She was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1973. Lady Sings the Blues, a film about her life, starring Diana Ross, was released in 1972, she is the primary character in the play Lady Day at Grill. In 2017 Holiday was inducted into the National Rhythm & Blues Hall of Fame. Eleanora Fagan was born on April 7, 1915, in Philadelphia, the daughter of unwed teenage couple Sarah Julia "Sadie" Fagan and Clarence Holiday. Sarah moved to Philadelphia aged 19, after she was evicted from her parents' home in the Sandtown-Winchester neighborhood of Baltimore, Maryland for becoming pregnant.
With no support from her parents, she made arrangements with her older, married half-sister Eva Miller for Eleanora to stay with her in Baltimore. Not long after Eleanora was born, Clarence abandoned his family to pursue a career as a jazz banjo player and guitarist. Holiday had a difficult childhood, her mother took what were known as "transportation jobs", serving on passenger railroads. Holiday was raised by Eva Miller's mother-in-law Martha Miller, suffered from her mother's absences and being in others' care for her first decade of life. Holiday's autobiography, Lady Sings the Blues, first published in 1956, is sketchy on details of her early life, but much was confirmed by Stuart Nicholson in his 1995 biography of the singer; some historians have disputed Holiday's paternity, as a copy of her birth certificate in the Baltimore archives lists her father as "Frank DeViese." Other historians consider this an anomaly inserted by a hospital or government worker. DeViese lived in Philadelphia, Sadie Harris may have known him through her work.
Sadie Harris known as Sadie Fagan, married Philip Gough, but the marriage ended in two years. Eleanora was left with Martha Miller, she skipped school, her truancy resulted in her being brought before the juvenile court on January 5, 1925, when she was nine years old. She was sent to the House of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic reform school, where she was baptized on March 19, 1925. After nine months in care, she was "paroled" on October 1925, to her mother, she had opened a restaurant, the East Side Grill, mother and daughter worked long hours there. By the age of 11, Holiday had dropped out of school. On December 24, 1926, Sadie came home to discover a neighbor, Wilbur Rich, attempting to rape Eleanora, she fought back, Rich was arrested. Officials placed Eleanora in the House of the Good Shepherd under protective custody as a state witness in the rape case. Holiday was released in February 1927, she found a job running errands in a brothel, she scrubbed marble steps and kitchen and bathroom floors of neighborhood homes.
Around this time, she first heard the records of Bessie Smith. By the end of 1928, Holiday's mother moved to Harlem, New York, again leaving Eleanora with Martha Miller. By early 1929, Holiday had joined her mother in Harlem, their landlady was a sharply-dressed woman named Florence Williams, who ran a brothel at 151 West 140th Street. Holiday's mother became a prostitute, within a matter of days of arriving in New York, not yet 14 became a prostitute at $5 a client; the house was raided on May 2, 1929, Holiday and her mother were sent to prison. After spending time in a workhouse, her mother was released in July, Holiday was released in October; as a young teenager, Holiday started singing in nightclubs in Harlem. She took her professional pseudonym from Billie Dove, an actress she admired, the musician Clarence Holiday, her probable father. At the outset of her career, she spelled her last name "Halliday", her father's birth surname, but changed it to "Holiday", his performing name; the young singer teamed up with tenor saxophone player Kenneth Hollan.
They were a team from 1929 to 1931, performing at clubs such as the Grey Dawn, Pod's and Jerry's on 133rd
William Larry Stewart II was an American rhythm and blues singer and pianist, popular during the 1960s. Stewart was 12 years old when he began singing with his younger brothers Johnny and Frank as the Four Stewart Brothers, went on to get their own radio show every Sunday for five years at WUST-AM in Washington, D. C, he was a graduate of Armstrong High School. Stewart made the transition to secular music by filling in for the Rainbows, a D. C. area vocal group led by the future soul star, Don Covay. It was through the Rainbows that Stewart met Marvin Gaye. Rock and roller Bo Diddley has been credited with discovering Stewart playing piano in Washington, D. C. in 1956 and inviting him to be one of his backup musicians. By 1955, this led to a recording contract with Diddley's label, Chess Records and Diddley played guitar on Stewart's 1956 recording of "Billy's Blues". A strong seller in Los Angeles, "Billy's Blues" reached the sales top 25 in Variety magazine. Stewart moved to Okeh Records and recorded "Billy's Heartache", backed by the Marquees, another D.
C. area group which featured Marvin Gaye. Back at Chess in the early 1960s, Stewart began working with A&R man Billy Davis, he recorded a song called "Fat Boy" and had additional success with his recordings of "Reap What You Sow" and "Strange Feeling", both making the Billboard Hot 100 and the Top 30 in the R&B charts. Major chart success was not far away and in 1965, Stewart recorded two self-written songs, "I Do Love You", which featured his brother Johnny Stewart as one of the backing vocalists with his partner James English, "Sitting in the Park", his idiosyncratic improvisational technique of doubling-up, scatting his words and trilling his lips made his style unique in the 1960s. In 1966, Stewart recorded the LP Unbelievable; the first single released from that album was Stewart's radical interpretation of the George Gershwin song, "Summertime", a Top 10 hit on both the pop and R&B charts. The follow-up single was Stewart's cover version of the Doris Day hit "Secret Love", which reached the Pop Top 30 and just missed the Top 10 on the R&B chart.
Stewart continued to record throughout the remainder of the 1960s on Chess without major success. A weight problem worsened, he developed diabetes. Stewart suffered minor injuries in a motorcycle accident in 1969. Stewart died in a broad-daylight car accident in January 1970, just two months prior to his 33rd birthday; the accident happened when the Ford Thunderbird that Stewart was driving approached a bridge across the Neuse River near Smithfield, North Carolina. His car left the highway, ran along the median strip at a slight angle to the highway, struck the bridge abutment, plunged into the river, killing Stewart and his three passengers instantly; the other victims in the accident were members of Stewart's band: Norman P. Rich, 39, of Washington D. C. William Cathey, 32 of Charlotte, N. C. and Rico Hightower, 22 of Newark, New Jersey. The four musicians were driving to a nightclub show in Columbia, South Carolina at the time of the wreck; the car had been purchased only 12 days before and had been driven only 1,400 miles before the accident occurred.
Stewart was buried in National Harmony Memorial Park in Maryland. Sarah Stewart, the executrix of his estate, sued Ford Motor Company on behalf of his estate, claiming mechanical failure was the cause of the accident; the first trial was won by Ford Motor Company, but on appeal the court ruled that the trial court's refusal to give the requested jury instructions was in error and ordered the case reversed and remanded. The case was settled out of court. During the late 1970s and early 1980s, his music was popular among Latino Chicano, youth on the West Coast. Stewart was inducted into the Washington Area Music Association Hall of Fame in 2002, his version of "Summertime" was one of the songs featured on Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour show, was one of the few artists Dylan responded about during his fictitious email responses to listener questions. His version of "Summertime" was featured in the last scene and on the soundtrack of the 2003 movie Stuck on You, his musical legacy is being kept alive by several talented family members in his hometown of Washington D.
C. Cousins Grace Ruffin, a member of the 60’s group The Jewels and musician Calvin C. Ruffin Jr. and local Washington, D. C. recording artist Dane Riley, continue to perform several of his hits during their concerts. Chess 1625: "Billy's Blues" / "Billy's Blues" ( Okeh 4-7095: "Baby, You're My Only Love" / "Billy's Heartache" Chess 1820: "Reap What You Sow" / "Fat Boy" - #18 R&B, #79 pop Chess 1835: "True Fine Lovin'" / "Wedding Bells" Chess 1852: "Scramble" / "Oh My, What Can the Matter Be" Chess 1868: "Strange Feeling" / "Sugar and Spice" - #25 R&B, #70 pop Chess 1888: "A Fat Boy Can Cry" / "Count Me Out" Chess 1905: "Tell It Like It Is" / "My Sweet Senorita" Chess 1922: "I Do Love You" / "Keep Loving" - #6 R&B, #26 pop Chess 1932: "Sitting in the Park" / "Once Again" - #4 R&B, #24 pop Chess 1941: "How Nice It Is" / "No Girl" Chess 1948: "Because I Love You" / "Mountain of Love" Chess 1960: "Love Me" / "Why Am I Lonely" - #38 R&B Chess 1966: "Summertime" / "To Love, to Love" - #7 R&B, #10 pop Chess 1978: "Secret Love" / "Look Back and Smile" - #11 R&B, #29 pop Chess 1991: "Every Day I Have the Blues" / "Ol' Man River" - #41 R&B, #79 pop Chess 2002: "Cross My Heart" / "Why?"
- #34 R&B, #86 pop / #49 R&B Chess 2053: "Tell Me the Truth" / "What Have I Done?"
Janis Lyn Joplin was an American rock and blues singer-songwriter, one of the most successful and known female rock stars of her era. After releasing three albums, she died of a heroin overdose at the age of 27. A fourth album, was released in January 1971, just over three months after her death, it reached number one on the Billboard charts. In 1967, Joplin rose to fame following an appearance at Monterey Pop Festival, where she was the lead singer of the little-known San Francisco psychedelic rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company. After releasing two albums with the band, she left Big Brother to continue as a solo artist with her own backing groups, first the Kozmic Blues Band and the Full Tilt Boogie Band, she appeared at the Festival Express train tour. Five singles by Joplin reached the Billboard Hot 100, including a cover of the Kris Kristofferson song "Me and Bobby McGee", which reached number 1 in March 1971, her most popular songs include her cover versions of "Piece of My Heart", "Cry Baby", "Down on Me", "Ball and Chain", "Summertime".
Joplin, a mezzo-soprano respected for her charismatic performing ability, was posthumously inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. Audiences and critics alike referred to her stage presence as "electric". Rolling Stone ranked Joplin number 46 on its 2004 list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time and number 28 on its 2008 list of 100 Greatest Singers of All Time, she remains one of the top-selling musicians in the United States, with Recording Industry Association of America certifications of 15.5 million albums sold. Janis Lyn Joplin was born in Port Arthur, Texas, on January 19, 1943, to Dorothy Bonita East, a registrar at a business college, her husband, Seth Ward Joplin, an engineer at Texaco, she had two younger siblings and Laura. The family belonged to the Churches of Christ denomination, her parents felt. As a teenager, Joplin befriended a group of outcasts, one of whom had albums by blues artists Bessie Smith, Ma Rainey, Lead Belly, whom Joplin credited with influencing her decision to become a singer.
She began singing blues and folk music with friends at Thomas Jefferson High School. Former Oklahoma State University and Dallas Cowboys Head Coach, Jimmy Johnson, was a high school classmate of Joplin. Joplin bullied in high school; as a teen, she became overweight and suffered from acne, leaving her with deep scars that required dermabrasion. Other kids at high school would taunt her and call her names like "pig," "freak," "nigger lover," or "creep." She stated, "I was a misfit. I read, I painted, I thought. I didn't hate niggers."Joplin graduated from high school in 1960 and attended Lamar State College of Technology in Beaumont, during the summer and the University of Texas at Austin, though she did not complete her college studies. The campus newspaper, The Daily Texan, ran a profile of her in the issue dated July 27, 1962, headlined "She Dares to Be Different." The article began, "She goes barefooted when she feels like it, wears Levis to class because they're more comfortable, carries her autoharp with her everywhere she goes so that in case she gets the urge to break into song, it will be handy.
Her name is Janis Joplin." While at UT she performed with a folk trio called the Waller Creek Boys and socialized with the staff of the campus humor magazine The Texas Ranger. Joplin cultivated a rebellious manner and styled herself after her female blues heroines and after the Beat poets, her first song, "What Good Can Drinkin' Do", was recorded on tape in December 1962 at the home of a fellow University of Texas student. She left Texas in January 1963, hitchhiking with her friend Chet Helms to North Beach, San Francisco. Still in San Francisco in 1964, Joplin and future Jefferson Airplane guitarist Jorma Kaukonen recorded a number of blues standards, which incidentally featured Kaukonen's wife Margareta using a typewriter in the background; this session included seven tracks: "Typewriter Talk", "Trouble in Mind", "Kansas City Blues", "Hesitation Blues", "Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out", "Daddy, Daddy", "Long Black Train Blues", was released long after Joplin's death as the bootleg album The Typewriter Tape.
In 1963, Joplin was arrested in San Francisco for shoplifting. During the two years that followed, her drug use increased and she acquired a reputation as a "speed freak" and occasional heroin user, she used other psychoactive drugs and was a heavy drinker throughout her career. In May 1965, Joplin's friends in San Francisco, noticing the detrimental effects on her from injecting methamphetamine, persuaded her to return to Port Arthur. During that month, her friends threw her a bus-fare party so she could return to her parents in Texas. Five years Joplin told Rolling Stone magazine writer David Dalton the following about her first stint in San Francisco: "I didn't have many friends and I didn't like the ones I had."Back in Port Arthur in the spring of 1965, after Joplin's parents noticed her weight of 88 pounds, she changed her lifestyle. She avoided drugs and alcohol, adopted a beehive hairdo, enrolled as an anthropology major at Lamar University in nearby Beaumont, Texas. During her time at Lamar University, she commuted to Austin to sing solo, accompanying herself on acoustic guitar.
One of her
My Man's Gone Now
"My Man's Gone Now" is an aria composed by George Gershwin, with lyrics by DuBose Heyward, written for the opera Porgy and Bess. Sung in the original production by Ruby Elzy, it has been covered by many singers, notably Ella Fitzgerald, Leontyne Price, Audra McDonald, Nina Simone, Sarah Vaughan, Shirley Horn, among others. In the opera, the aria is sung by the grieving widow, at her husband Robbins's wake, he has been murdered by Crown, a drunken stevedore, during a crap game played in the courtyard of Catfish Row. She sings that she will no longer hear his footsteps coming up stairs and that "ol man sorrow" will be her companion from now on, telling her she is old; the aria's music and lyrics refer to popular African American spiritual songs and are accompanied by melodic wails which are picked up by the chorus. Leontyne Price, who played Bess, once said in a master class that it was important to express the "cultural context, captured in the music." Speaking to an aspiring singer, she said that the song's distinctive sighing refrains must be "like moaning in church."
Nina Simone's version was captured. According to her biographer Nadine Cohodas, "Ray Hall, the engineer, had come out of the control room, but as soon as he heard Nina and heard the bass player catch her groove, he hustled back to run a tape. "'From somewhere', Davis said of the bewitching moment,'she called up the stamina to deliver with more intensity and spirit a rare, perfect performance in one take, which could not be improved.'" The song has been adapted for jazz versions, notably by Bill Evans in 1961 on Sunday at the Village Vanguard, by Miles Davis and Gil Evans in 1959 on their album Porgy and Bess, by Davis again in 1981 on the live album We Want Miles. The song is included in 1986 album Work! by jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller. The song is included in 2000 album Aria by jazz saxophonist Grover Washington Jr.. Stephen Sondheim has expressed his deep admiration for Dubose Heyward's lyrics, writing that, along with Summertime, it creates a distinctive "informal, uneducated diction and a stream of consciousness" that defines the verbal style of the characters.
Deryck Cooke in The Language of Music refers to the song as an example of "substituting the minor for the major third in the descending 5–3–1 progression, we have a phrase, much used to express an'incoming' painful emotion, in a context of finality: acceptance of, or yielding to grief. Gershwin uses it to express "the despair of Serena... as she laments that her murdered husband will never come home to her again—'My man's gone now'."