Reported Live from the Grammys
by Phyllis Pollack
In the pre-telecast segment of the 55th Annual Grammy Awards, the award for Best Spoken Word album went to Janis Ian, for the recorded version of her tome "Society's Child: My Autobiography." Ian recorded it in her own voice.
Backstage, Ian spoke about her first Grammy win since her 1975 Grammy nod for her single "At Seventeen."
Noting her competition in the category, comprised of Bill Clinton, Rachel Maddow, and Ellen DeGeneris, she commented, "I can't believe that I won over them."
Ian stated, "I think it means more to me now, than when I was a kid. Because when I was a kid, I didn't understand that music is the great leveler. Music cuts across class, culture and nation, color, gender. It levels us all out. It makes us part of the greater community."
"I meant what I said on the stage about it. I just find it astonishing to be born as an artist with this luck," she said about her craft.
Ian also addressed re-experiencing her life by way of reading her autobiography. Ian reflected, "I think in a lot of ways, it was harder narrating it, than it was writing it. Because writing it, you have that nice distance between you and the paper, or you and the computer."
The gifted singer, songwriter and guitarist noted, "But when you're narrating, it's immediate. It's like playing guitar. It's right here. So to be talking about things like your ex-husband's abuse, or being molested. Or good things, like my first Grammy nomination."
She also found that she had more confidence, adding, "And my astonishment when I began writing again as an adult, and found that I really could write, because everybody had thought I was a fluke when I was a kid."
"It put everything in a different kind of perspective. It made me realize that a lot of people on my enemies list weren't actually enemies, and a lot of my friends were really friends," she explained.
Ian has always had a strong identity as a performer with a reputation for being fearless when expressing herself in her work. She discussed her gutsy outlook, stating, "When Bonnie Raitt's "Nick of Time" came out, I was sitting with another songwriter Kye Fleming, and I said, 'I love this record.' And she said, 'What do you love about it?"
Ian continued, "I said, 'It's what I want from Bonnie Raitt.' And she said, 'Yeah, you've got to figure out what you do that makes it special, and stop trying to do what other people do."
She contended, "And I thought about it for a long time, and I realized the only thing I did better than my contemporaries was talk about things that scared people to talk about. That was it."
"So once I understood that, it was less frightening to do," she commented.
Backstage, Ian also noted that she feels it important for artists to express and live their own personal truth.
"I assume the artist knows what he's doing, even though I rarely agree. To me, that's it. If you can stay on the path, then things fall into place. Once you start trying to be somebody else, or start looking at money as the goal, or looking at fame as the goal. If you're an artist, that's when you're off the path."
"And that's when it all goes south," she added.
"But as to what people get from it (the book), I just hope that they like me at the end, you know," she laughed.
Established in 1957, The Recording Academy is an organization of musicians, producers, engineers and recording professionals that is dedicated to improving the cultural condition and quality of life for music and its makers.
Internationally known for the Grammy Awards, the preeminent peer-recognized award for musical excellence and the most credible brand in music, The Recording Academy is responsible for groundbreaking professional development, cultural enrichment, advocacy, education and human services programs.
The Academy continues to focus on its mission of recognizing musical excellence, advocating for the well-being of music makers.
The Academy also includes in its mission the goal of ensuring music that remains an indelible part of American culture, through its many initiatives that support education. For more information about The Academy, please visit www.grammy.com.
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For more information about The Academy, please visit www.grammy.com. For breaking news and exclusive content, follow @TheGrammys on Twitter, like "The Grammys" on Facebook, and join The Grammys' social communities on Foursquare, GetGlue, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and YouTube.
For the first time ever, the Pre-Telecast Ceremony for the 55th Annual Grammy Awards will be streamed live worldwide both at Grammy.com/live and online at CBS.com. Historically, this will mark the first time the Pre-Telecast Ceremony is being held at Nokia Cener.
The televised portion of the music industry's “Biggest Night of the Year” will take place live on Sunday, Feb. 10, at Staples Center in Los Angeles. It will be broadcast in high-definition TV and 5.1surround sound on the CBS Television Network from 8:00 to 11:30 p.m. (ET/PT).
Phyllis Pollack is reporting live from the Grammys.
Follow Phyllis on Twitter.