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

Join The 'Morning Edition' Book Club As We Read 'A God In Ruins'

Gone Girl author Gillian Flynn, who selected the book, tells NPR's David Greene that Kate Atkinson is "one of those writers that really can make you weep on one page and laugh on the next."
NPR

'Bourbon Empire' Reveals The Smoke And Mirrors Of American Whiskey

A new book suggests that tall tales on craft bourbon labels are the rule rather than the exception. They're just one example of a slew of "carefully cultivated myths" created by the bourbon industry.
NPR

'My Brother's Keeper' To Expand Opportunities For Young Men Of Color

President Obama is turning his My Brother's Keeper initiative into an outside alliance that will live on after his presidency. He described the new effort at an event in New York City on Monday.
NPR

As Emoji Spread Beyond Texts, Many Remain [Confounded Face] [Interrobang]

There's a growing tendency to bring the tiny hieroglyphs off of phones, but not everyone is fluent. New takes on emoji integration suggest misunderstanding may be remedied with universal translation.

Leave a Comment

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