Brewery presents Janis Ian Saturday

Music was not enough for Janis Ian, one of rock's child prodigies.

That is why the Grammy-nominated artist dropped out of sight for a decade to explore writing and theater before returning to the music scene in 1993.

Ian hit early with her 1965 hit, "Society's Child," which she wrote and arranged at age 14.

She was nominated for her first grammy for her debut album "Janis Ian," in 1967.

The song topped the charts and created a storm of debate, landing Ian on the Tonight Show and inside magazines such as Life, Look, Time and Newsweek. Her first Grammy came with her debut album, .

"As an artist no one is ever fulfilled," she said. "There's always something out there."

Ian's musical career began humbly when she demanded piano lessons from her father at the tender age of 2 1/2. Dad gave in and what followed was a string of bad piano teachers, according to Ian. They signalled the end of her formal musical training, but not her music.

"I continued playing by myself," she said. "I took up the guitar when I was 10 and then the French horn."

Ian's songs have been recorded by everyone from Stan Getz to Bette Midler and Joan Baez to Etta James, but she stopped working in 1982. Convinced that her writing was "going down the drain," she spent the next 10 years studying with acting instructor Stella Adler and others in Los Angeles.

"As a singer, we don't get weekends and nights off and I'd done the same thing for 20 to 25 years. It was me out in front every night," she said. "I decided it would be good to step away from music and just do lot of writing.

"I was in the arts but not in my form," she said. "I was writing, studying acting, working in the theater and studying ballet."

The hiatus opened her horizons, and she's back better than ever.

In 1993 she returned with a full collection of new material. "Breaking Silence" was nominated for a Grammy Award as Contemporary Folk Album of the Year and two years later came "Revenge," nominated as Pop Album of the Year at the Nashville Music Awards.

"The problem with being a musician is that you don't get exposed to anything but your art," Ian said. "Before my time off I was drawing on 60 years of music. Now I draw on 2,500 years of music, theater and dance. It can't help but improve the work. I'm much more economical and careful with words. I'm aware of writing universally rather than for a small audience or group of friends."

In addition to her heavy touring schedule, Ian continues her songwriting as well as writing a monthly column for Performing Songwriter Magazine. She is also interested in writing a musical, acting, participating in an archaeological dig and going on photo safari in Africa. Ian will be performing Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the Brewery Arts Center. Tickets are $25 general and $20 for students, seniors and Brewery members.

Who: Janis Ian

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday

Where: Brewery Arts Center


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