FORTY YEARS AGO, a preternaturally gifted fourteen-year old walked into pop music producer Shadow Morton’s office and got a record deal. A week later Janis Ian was in the studio recording “Society’s Child,” a folk ballad about interracial dating. Soon after, she was touring the country with this controversial hit song. Twenty-four albums and two Grammy awards later, she is still going strong.
Along the way, Ian evolved into a lesbian icon as she wrote a monthly column for The Advocate for five years, married her partner Pat in Toronto in 2002 with a wedding announcement in The New York Times, and headlined pride festivals around the country. On the release of her latest album Folk is the New Black, the singer-songwriter spoke with me in person for the G&LR.