Janis Martin, 'The Female Elvis,' Returns | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio
Filed Under:

Janis Martin, 'The Female Elvis,' Returns

Play associated audio

Janis Martin was just a teenager from Virginia when she was christened "The Female Elvis." In the mid-1950s, she sold 750,000 copies of a song called "Will You, Willyum." She played the Grand Ole Opry, American Bandstand and The Tonight Show. But her fame was short-lived. Martin got married and had a baby, which didn't sit so well with the people managing her career. Her label dropped her, and she fell off the musical map.

Five years ago, a fan got Martin back in a studio, and the result is a new album, The Blanco Sessions. That fan, Rosie Flores, co-produced the album with Bobby Trimble, and spoke to Weekend Edition Sunday host Rachel Martin about the life of Janis Martin and the process of making The Blanco Sessions.

Flores says she first heard Martin in 1979 at a rockabilly show, during Martin's brief comeback. "It was Janis Martin for me that really became kind of a role model and an idol ... because of how amazing her voice sounded and the kind of guitar parts that were on her records," she says. "It just really spoke to me."

In 2007, Flores set out to help Martin give new voice to some old tunes. She brought Martin to a studio in Blanco, Texas.

"It was just inspiring to watch her work in the studio after all these years. I realized that she and I had such a great rapport, and that I could relax her in the studio, and she took direction so well," says Flores. "She was a little bit nervous because she hadn't done this in such a long time. It was important for her that it be really good."

Flores recalls how excited Martin was about the record coming out. She remembers Martin saying that she was going to get her luck together and begin to plan tours. But Martin died of lung cancer at age 67, just a few months after wrapping up production of The Blanco Sessions.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Rod McKuen, The Cheeseburger To Poetry's Haute Cuisine

Poet Rod McKuen was loved by millions but mocked by literary critics. He died this week at age 81.
NPR

Shake Shack Sizzles With IPO As McDonald's Fizzles

Shares of the burger chain shot up Friday, its first trading day. Shake Shack and other fast-casual joints are taking a bite out of McDonald's, which can't recast itself to fit the current trend.
NPR

What Romney's Retreat Means For GOP Hopefuls

NPR's Scott Simon speaks with senior Washington editor Ron Elving about the narrowing Republican presidential field for 2016 and what we've seen so far in the first month of the new Congress.
NPR

Media Outlets Partner With Snapchat To Appeal To Younger Users

As people disappear from the audiences of conventional news organizations, 11 media outlets have partnered with Snapchat in the U.S. to offer its younger users easily digested fare within the app.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.