Janis Joplin is the first “frontwoman” for rock. And really, there’s a reason why she has been an influential figure in rock and roll more than forty years after her death: she was the first one to broke though the self-imposed “gender restriction” of rock by simply being…. well, herself. Indeed, it’s no wonder why amongst the many, many young girls and women auditioning for the hot new singing show of the season, there will always be that one person who’ll be singing “Piece Of My Heart”. Yep, many girls do want to know how to sing like Janis Joplin!
So, if you’re one of those women, how you can you exactly do so, then? Well, for sure, you can’t do it by singing like a “traditional” pop star, of course! In this regard, this is where you can take advantage of this short “guide” we’ll be writing for this purpose, then! Read below for more!
Know the “right” influences
One of the many criticisms levied against Joplin when she was still in the peak of her performing powers was the fact that she “aped” her influences very closely; in this case, her singing style was a product of the African-American blues singers she was listening to when she was younger and, amidst the various racial connotations of “liking” such a particular artifact of culture during the time she grew up in, which she became eventually connected to.
And really, unlike many pop songs of her era—or even in our era—the blues used pain, heartbreak, and misery as a driving force to propel their music towards an unassailable Truth. Joplin, having came from a very traumatic childhood, used the signifiers of blues to speak of her pain, and in effect, this why her music has become so transcendent during all those years.
So, what’s the Janis Joplin 101 Primer for the artists you should listen to, then? Well, there’s Bessie Smith, Big Mama Thornton, and even some classic “folkies” like Joan Baez and Judy Collins. Know the roots, and you’ll understand why she sings the way she sings!
Know the “correct” technique
Sounding like Janis Joplin is indeed a huge challenge, and not because of the fact that she can sound raspy AND still hit those insane high notes on her songs. If you “force” your singing into that method, then you can seriously damage your vocals in the long-term.
So, what’s the best way around it, then? Well, you can do so by “pushing” air on a more copious level than normal when you’re singing. It’s not a “pure” rasp, but at least you can preserve your throat using that manner.
On the other hand, you can also drink water and NOT swallow all of it by, instead, having a small amount of it remain on your throat. It can help greatly in “vibrating” your vocals, but just don’t do it for an extended time.
Using the right “technology”
One of the advantages sound engineers of today have over their older “analog” counterparts from forty-to-fifty years ago is the fact that we now have the capability to make anything sound the way we want it to be. And really, one of the best ways you can do so is by having your regular singing voice be “altered” by the engineer or tech on hand. Yep, that seems like cheating, but think about it: do you really want your “rasp” to cause problems on your voice even when you’re speaking in old age? Yep, of course not!
So, do you have any other ideas on how to sing like Janis Joplin? Well, do share it with us in the comments below!