Janis Ian To Receive International Folk Music Awards' Lifetime Achievement

Iconic singer-songwriter Janis Ian is set to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award, earned an Artist of the Year nomination, and landed on many year-end best albums lists. “With more years behind me than ahead of me, I’m grateful and astounded at so much recognition,” says the 71-year-old artist.

Ian will receive an Elaine Weissman Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2023 International Folk Music Awards (IFMA) on February 1 in Kansas City, Missouri on the opening night of the Folk Alliance International’s 35th annual conference and is also up for the Artist of the Year award alongside Jake Blount, Prateek Kuhad, Leyla McCalla, and Aoife O’Donovan.

Registered delegates at the conference will attend the show in person, and it will also be streamed virtually on YouTube for public viewing: www.youtube.com/@FolkAlliance/streams.

The Lifetime Achievement Award honors the cultural impact of legendary folk music figures in three categories: Living (Ian), Legacy (Josh White), and Business/Academic (John Prine’s Oh Boy Records). In choosing Ian for this honor, the Folk Alliance writes, “Janis Ian is a music icon whose songs and performances have resonated with the public for over five decades. Much of her music has poignantly focused on social issues, as Ian is a pioneer of both confessional singer-songwriters’ music and social protest.”
“Her first hit, ‘Society’s Child,’ written when she was just fourteen,” they continue, “spoke empathetically about interracial romance, and her indelible song ‘At Seventeen’ remains the anthem for ‘ugly duckling girls’ maligned by false beauty standards. Her music defies easy categorization, with albums like ‘Stars’ and ‘Between the Lines’ becoming classics in both the adult contemporary and folk rock idioms. Ian was also a pioneer of artist-run labels with her Rude Girl Records and, after coming out with her groundbreaking 1993 album Breaking Silence, she’s been a beacon for LGBTQIA+ awareness in the folk community. Ian (was just forced to retire) from performing, making this the perfect time to honor this living legend.”

“At Seventeen,” which was recently listed as one of the most essential folk songs of all time by Folk Alley, still resonates with young girls today as further evidenced by Violet Grohl, the 16-year-old daughter of Dave Grohl (the Foo Fighters, Nirvana), who performed the track for her dad’s Hanukkah Sessions in December. After a recording of it was released online, Ian wrote on her Facebook page: “This morning I woke up and thought ‘How strange. I’ll never be able to sing ‘At Seventeen’ again.’ And I don’t mind admitting that it was really depressing. But what better antidote could there be than to hear my work, 47 years after I wrote it, beautifully and sincerely sung by Violet Grohl? What a perfectly happy day this turned out to be. Thank you, Violet. Thank you, Dave. Thank you.”