Blues legend Janis Lyn Joplin was born on January 19th 1943, the eldest child of parents Seth and Dorothy Joplin. Janis was born and raised in the small Southern petroleum industry town of Port Arthur, Texas. Her father was a canning factory worker, her mother a registrar at a local business college. Her non-abberational upbringing coupled with the atmosphere of Port Arthur at the time; generally restrictive, intolerant, and unnurturing must’ve made even Janis’ early childhood difficult. By all accounts, however, Janis seems to have been a “normal” and happy child, who fitted society’s usual definition of “pretty”. It was in Janis’ adolescence that the hang-ups and hassles that were to affect the path of the rest of her life. In a sense, her rigid upbringing played a large part in making Janis who she was. This would never have been admitted at the time, but, predictably, the “Port Arthur” ethic created a fire inside Janis (the fire which later made her so famous) and kept it burning until her death. Janis’ troubles began, when, as a teenager, her “good looks” gradually began to disintegrate, her soft blonde hair turned into an unruly brown mane. She also developed severe acne, which would scar her mentally as well as physically. Hence, Janis became something of a loner, an “ugly duckling”- somebody who no longer fitted society’s absurd notion of “pretty.” She soon began avoiding mirrors, and her anxiety about her looks was made worse by the constant taunts by peers, who rejected her and often made fun of her. When Janis found that society had rejected her, she simply rejected it. Janis raised on classical music and omnipresent country music back in Texas, discovered the blues of Louisiana. Janis was soon inspired to both learn and appreciate music, and its roots- her idols included Odettea, Leadbelly and Bessie Smith, who would have great influence on her subsequent musical career, especially her vocal style. By the time Janis gra…
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