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Janis Ian Secure In Past, Present

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Friday, December 11, 2009

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Janis Ian has spent the past year living somewhat in the past. And happily so.

A paperback edition of her 2008 memoir, “Society’s Teacher: My Autobiography,” came out in September — along with “The Essential Janis Ian,” a two-CD collection that kicks off with her first-ever recording, “Hair of Spun Gold,” and of course includes her Grammy Award-winning 1975 hit “At Seventeen.”

“The ‘Essential’ CD is a really cool thing,” says Ian, 58. “I’ve never had any kind of best-of in North America; I’ve always protected those rights. But suddenly, last year, Sony came to me ’cause the book was doing well ... and made me a more than fair deal with it.

“I was with them every step of the way — archival photography, doing the liner notes and stuff. It’s a cool thing, especially since I’ve been railing against the wretched excess of the record industry for so long, that they would come to me in the end.”

Now, however, Ian has her eyes on the future. She’s been working on a project blending Japanese and American folk songs with songwriter Angela Aki and is also collaborating with “Dune” author Kevin Anderson on a couple of songs to accompany his next novel. Ian is contemplating a novel of her own in conjunction with another author friend, and she’s signed on for a guest duet on Patty Larkin’s new album.

“I keep saying I’m not taking any new projects on and want to slow down,” Ian notes with a laugh. “Then something like the Patty thing comes up, and she’s a good friend, and the Kevin thing ... It’s hard to say no to your friends. I try not to over-commit, but once in awhile you’re stuck.”

Janis Ian performs at 8 p.m. Saturday (Dec. 12) at The Ark, 316 S. Main St., Ann Arbor. Tickets are $25. Call (734) 761-1451 or visit www.theark.org.

Web Site: www.theark.org

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