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Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing Hardcover – October 1, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Gr 9 Up–It was 40 years ago this October that the rock singer died from an overdose of alcohol and drugs at the age of 27. From interviews with her friends and letters that Joplin wrote home, Angel pieces together her subject's short life, contrasting her conservative upbringing in a small Texas town with the wild 1960s, vividly portrayed both in descriptions and in excellent-quality, full-color and black-and-white photos on almost every page. Joplin's husky, passionate singing voice was appreciated by other musicians and by her audiences. She loved to sing the blues with the misery and pain that dominated the lyrics. Bessie Smith and Odetta were her heroines. The author points out that despite the fame and fortune that she achieved, Joplin was basically insecure and in need of acceptance. This book is well researched with more than 100 notes referring to specific quotes from friends, family, and magazines. Teens will be intrigued by the life of this cult figure. Her memory has been kept alive by her recordings and an off-Broadway show, Love, Janis, based on letters she wrote to family and friends during her career, which continues to be staged throughout the country.Peggy Fleming, formerly at Churchville-Chili High School, Churchville, NY
© Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* In an introduction to this long-overdue portrait of “the first queen of rock,” Sam Andrew, Janis Joplin’s former bandmate and best friend, says, “There was electricity in the air when Janis was around. . . . She was vulnerable, powerful, super wide open, talented, and interesting in a kind of terrifying way.” Building from Andrew’s full-hearted and contradictory description, Angel presents a nuanced account of the groundbreaking musician’s life, beginning with her challenging adolescence in Port Arthur, Texas. After giving up on fitting in, she sang along to the blues on long drives with equally rebellious teen friends and learned that she had a powerful voice. Tracking back to Joplin’s childhood, Angel then moves on to the singer’s early years of studying and music-making before she finally grabbed attention with Andrews’ band Big Brother and the Holding Company. Angel writes with both a reporter’s forthright, detached tone and a fan’s full-hearted enthusiasm, and she includes numerous revealing quotes from friends and family members, all sourced in the appended notes and bibliography. Without sensationalizing, she also discusses Joplin’s sex-drugs-and-rock-’n’-roll lifestyle, which ended with the singer’s alcohol-and-heroin-induced death at the age of 27. A groovy page design, patterned in shades of purple and acid green; a lively annotated time line; and unforgettable archival images will pull even more attention to this captivating view of a musician rarely spotlighted in books for youth. Grades 9-12. --Gillian Engberg
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 120 pages
  • Publisher: Harry N. Abrams; 1 edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0810983494
  • ISBN-13: 978-0810983496
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 0.8 x 10.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #958,239 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I recently acquired this book for our public high school library. Although this book has been favorably reviewed for high school students, I was wondering how her private life would be presented in this volume aimed at young adult readers. While it would receive a PG13 rating if it were a film, the main point of the book can be summarized in the following quote from the last chapter:

"Fame had nurtured and encouraged Janis's wild, over-the-top behavior. People loved when she swaggered onto the stage with a bottle of Southern Comfort or waxed lyrical about getting high. And, along the way, she became as hooked on adulation as she was on drugs and alcohol. It was the attention she craved all her life, from her lonely high school days to her spirited college days to her crazy days in San Francisco, speeding around town in her psychedelic Porsche. To feed her voracious need for more love and praise, she became ever more outrageous. She took greater and greater personal risks until, finally, sheer carelessness caught up with her..." (Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing, page 99).

Janis was an awesome blues singer. I saw her shortly after she joined Big Brother and the Holding Company in 1966. But her life went out of control, resulting in her untimely death. This books celebrates the music, while providing a cautionary tale for readers that "sex, drugs and rock and roll" can lead down a dark path to addiction, and in this case, eventually death.

For a young person wanting to better understand what Janis was all about, or to get a better understanding of the psychedelic music scene in the late Sixties, this volume does an amazing job of showing it as it was.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I grew up listening and loving Janis Joplin. She was the poster child for all of us "southern gals" who didn't fit in. The first present a boy gave me was her album PEARL. I spent hours in front of the mirror lip-synching "Me and Bobby McGee." Yet what did I really know about her? She died from "drugs" (as they said back in the day) when I was a high school sophomore. I knew she was from somewhere in Texas. And that was it. One of my favorite singers and I knew almost nothing because there was so little written about her back then. I know in the intervening years there have been biographies, but I can't think of one that is as suitable for young adults as this one. To understand Janis, you have to understand the 60's, and to most young adults the 1960's are as remote and unknown to them as the 1860's. Angel has done her homework well, helping the reader to understand both the conservative, restrictive Texas that Janis longed to escape, and the wild and wooly world of Haight Ashbury and the San Francisco music scene. Janis and her music were products of both environments. While Janis's drug and alcohol use are not soft pedaled, Angel also explains the difference in the laws and mores of the 60's. (I learned that LSD was a legal substance until 1966!) You are taken inside Janis's conflicted soul...wanting to be "the pretty girl" on the one hand, but acting aggressively uncouth to mask this desire. This is a terrific book, well documented.
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Format: Hardcover
Ann Angel's entirely accessible and compelling biography of Janis Joplin is a marvel of a book and well deserving of the 2011 YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction. Joplin's story is interwoven with period details about life and popular culture of the 50s and 60s, including pictures and descriptions for readers to use as they compare Joplin to her contemporaries. This approach is excellently executed, and walks a perfect line-- offering enough information for comprehension while enticing the reader to seek further resources on the era. I was particularly impressed by the book's layout. The selection of pictures and incorporation of graphic elements moves the reader through the narrative in a seamless fashion. I was afraid that use of 60s design elements would make the book seem dated, but the choices of color and pattern stamping somehow manage to be both true to the era and a bit contemporary at the same time.

Joplin's story is told warmly and simply, never faltering or pandering to a younger audience. Her journey from Port Arthur to Austin to San Francisco is set in a solid description of American mainstream life of the era, allowing readers to imagine what they might have chosen for themselves had they lived in conservative post-war times. Joplin's struggle to invent herself as an artist is depicted non-judgementally, with honest details about her experiences with drugs and alcohol as well as the brief time she spent attempting to live a "normal" life back home before abandoning herself to her art. Overall, I found this to be an exceptional addition to the field of biographies for teens.
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Format: Hardcover
This well-researched biography of Janis Joplin starts at her high school in Port Arther, Texas and follows her life and career to their untimely end a little over 10 years later. It's full of (awesome) pictures, is not bogged down by the recitation of dates, has a great bibliography for further reading, a chronology, and a brief index. It is a biography that you can give, with confidence, to teens looking for more information on a great artist or someone interesting to write about for an assignment.

But Janis Joplin: Rise Up Singing is more than the average biography. Angel brings Joplin to life. She manages to balance personal Janis and rockstar Janis on the page, something real life Janis always struggled with. The result is a history of the era and environment that produced Joplin the icon, as well as the story of how normal kids, like Joplin, dealt with all the changes the 60s brought about. Anecdotes from Joplin's friends and band mates appear throughout the text as do professional pictures of Joplin and her bands. The most quoted person in the book is Laura, Joplin's little sister. Sex, drugs and rock n'roll are definitely present in the book, and the over the top drug use is discussed, but Angel shows that Joplin's drug use was never her biggest problem. It was Joplin's need for love and attention that drove her to perform, and it was her fans' love of her drugged-up persona that drove her to use.

But it was Joplin's voice that made her a success, and somehow that comes through on the page. Maybe it was just that I had "Piece of My Heart" and "Me and Bobby McGee" stuck in my head for most of the time I spent reading this book (until "Mercedes Benz" was mentioned of course), but I thought Angel conveyed the grit and soul of Joplin's voice amazingly.
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