How To Sing Like Janis Joplin (5 Brilliant Tips)

Published Categorized as Singing

Janis Joplin was an American singer, songwriter, her main genre was rock, soul and blues music.

She was born on the 19th of January 1943. She rose to fame in the 1960s and was recognized for her powerful vocals.

She had a love for music from an early age but started her career officially when she joined Big Brother and the Holding Company in the year 1966.

The group released an album called “Cheap thrills” in 1966 and it was a mega-hit.

But Janis Joplin left the group soon after due to friction between herself and the band.

She was dubbed the first queen of rock ‘n’ roll, and her voice is singular. She was rough around the edges, vulnerable and charismatic, and she paved the way for countless women in rock.

In 1969, Janis Joplin released her first solo effort ‘I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!,.

But the album was not as successful as her second project ‘Pearl’ released in 1971. The song was released after her death and it was a huge success.

She died at the young age of 27 due to an accidental drug overdose.

How Did Janis Joplin Start Singing

How To Sing Like Janis Joplin

Having a love for music from an early age, Janis Joplin started singing in her church choir back in a small Texas town.

Janis started a group composed only of herself and some of her guy friends who shared her interest in Bethe at generation and Music as well.

The group gravitated towards jazz and Blues, admiring talents such as Lead Belly.

The group frequent local working-class bars in the nearby town of Vinton, Louisiana.

She developed a reputation as a Ballsy, tough-talking girl who is outrageous and likes to drink in her senior year of high school.

Joplin started studying Arts at the University of Texas at Austin where she began performing at some very casual musical gatherings, on campus, Folk Songs.

With her gusty style of singing, she endeared herself to any audience member, she was unlike any other white female vocalist at that time.

She went to San Francisco with Chet Helms to check out the emerging music scene while ditching school in the process but this as well did not turn out well for her.

After many futile efforts, Joplin was recruited by Travis Rivers, a friend to audition for a new psychedelic rock band based in San Francisco, Big Brother and the Holdings in May 1966.

She impressed the band and was offered a membership to join. While in the band, Janis Joplin only sang a few songs and also played the tambourine in the background.

In 1968 Big Brother, now being managed by Albert Grossman, released an album called “Cheap Thrills” that became a huge success, the album became a certified gold record.

The album helped in solidifying the reputation of Janis Joplin as a dynamic and unique bluesy rock singer.

In December 1968, Joslin played with her band for the last time before moving on to start her solo career.

In September 1969, she released her solo effort titled “I Got Dem Ol’ Kozmic Blues Again Mama!, although the album was received with mixed reactions and she was criticised based on a personal level.

Her second album ” Pearl ” was a hit and it was released after she accidentally died from a Drug(Heroine) Overdose on the 4th of October 1970.

Despite her death, her songs have continued to make waves, inspire performers and gain new fans.

What is Janis Joplin’s Voice Type

Janis Joplin’s voice is a rich mezzo-soprano and she can sing very high notes without her voice thinning out or getting cracked.

Despite her voice being heavy-weighted, she can reach a wide range and also has proper diction and phrasing.

What is Janis Joplin’s Vocal Range?

Janis Joplin’s Vocal range from B2 -B5 with three octaves.

She has a wild and uninhibited way of delivering her songs with a very passionate abandon not heard from any previous white female singer.

Here is an article I wrote on how to sing like Brendon Urie

What Makes Janis Joplin’s Voice So Unique

She has a deep mezzo-soprano and she is connected to the wordings of the song she sings.

Her voice has a Raspy quality to it and while belting, she can reach the 5th octave in a mixed voice.

Her voice is powerful and very commanding. She has a raw and unadulterated form of singing and this has made her stand out and her music still relevant today.

What Is The Highest Note Janis Joplin Can Sing?

Janis Joplin is a mezzo-soprano with a 3-octave range in her range from B2 – B5.

The highest pitch she has ever taken was a G3-A5 with the song “Cry Baby”.

Can Janis Joplin Sing?

Yes. Janis Joplin can sing, with her vocal timbres that are distinctive coupled with her vibrato, she used to wail, raspy growl and scream to express raw emotions when singing.

Her technique was described as using a mixture of noise and tone, distortion and as well as edges.

She has a way of conveying intensity with her singing.

even though originally, she was a soul singer, she was also one of the first to sing psychedelic rock.

Here is an article I wrote on how to sing like Howlin Wolf

How To Sing Like Janis Joplin

The first step to learning how to sing like anyone is to learn how to sing properly first starting from:

  • Breath control
  • Learn more about vocal control and vocal resonance.
  • Do a five scale exercise on hmm or Hunan will help you in keeping that forward feeling for increased power
  • Do not get your Belts by pushing your throats, this is bad for your voice, pushing on your throats will create tension in your voice, decrease your notes volume and cause you to go flat on higher pitches, to get over this and achieve high belting, get your vocal fold and airflow to work well and then learn the right placement of your voice in your vocal tract.
  • To get the Raspy distorted sound, start by delivering a high level of airflow instead of grinding your throat muscles.

Some steps needed to sing like Janis Joplin include:

  • Having vocal control and being relaxed in your vocal range, if you have not dealt with this, you will risk voice injury by straight diving into voice distortion.
  • Try to sing from your stomach and not your throat.
  • To create Janis Joplin’s heavier sound, sing from your diaphragm, adding some pressure to your diaphragm will most likely push air through your vocal cords to be able to achieve that heavy grit.
  • learn how to change different kinds of pitches, closing your throats can add grit or harshness, using your lips and teeth will affect the kind of phonics you make and opening your throat will improve your voice timbre and volume.
  • Excercise to get your voice stronger, understand your vocal range, and most importantly get a vocal coach.

What Are Some Classic Janis Joplin’s Songs to Practice?

Some classic Janis Joplin’s songs to practice and their links are listed down below:

  1. Piece of My Heart:

Piece of My Heart was a song by Erma Franklin released in October 1967.

The song is more of a funk love song.

It gained major mainstream attention when  Joslin’s band( Big Brother and The Holdings Company) did a cover for the song with Joslin as the lead singer in 1968.

The Big Brother and the Holding Company Version of the song”Piece of My Heart” peaked at No. 353 on Rolling stone’s list of the 500 Greatest songs of all time.

The link to their version of the song is below:

  1. Cry Baby:

Cry Baby was another song written and recorded by the Enchanters and Garnet Mimms in 1963.

In 1970, Janis Joplin recorded the song ‘cry baby’. The song topped the charts of R&B and peaked at No.4 on the Billboard Hot 100 charts in 1963.

Janis Joplin recorded the song in her second and last album titled “Pearl” as a solo singer in 1970 before her untimely demise. The song was released posthumous and it was peaked at No. 42 on the US Hot 100 charts and also No.20 on Cash Box Chart.

The link to Janis Joplin version of Cry Baby is below:

  1. Mercedes Benz:

The Accapella song ‘Mercedes Benz’ was written by Janis Joplin and Bob Neuwirth with poet Micheal McClure.

The song was the last song she recorded before her accidental death, the song was released in her 1971 album’s Pearl’s after her death.

The link to the song Mercedes Benz is below:


Janis Joplin was rightly Dubbed the first queen of Rock& Roll because she paved the way for countless women in Rock. She is recognized for her powerful voice and she has had a love of music since she was young.

Although sadly, her career was cut very short when she died of accidental drug abuse in October 1970.

To date, her music is still unique and has transcended over time.

By Sophie Collins

Hi my name is Sophie, I am a Singer, Producer and Instrumentalist. I also love to bake and get creative with my hands. When I am not strumming my guitar, you can find me reading a good book with a glass of wine in my hands.

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