Janis Ian was almost speechless on Sunday afternoon when her name was called as the winner for Best Spoken Word Album for her autobiography Society’s Child.
Her competition in the category was fierce, including the audio book of Michelle Obama’s American Grown, former president Bill Clinton’s reading of his book Back to Work, Rachel Maddow’s recording of her book Drift and Ellen DeGeneres’ audio version of her book Seriously…but Kidding.
Ian’s reference to her competition during her acceptance speech ended up being one of the high points of the pre-Grammy ceremony. “I keep thinking there’s got to be a punchline here…an ex-president, the First Lady and three lesbians walk into a bar…”
The audio book had a marked difference from the standard fare. Along with a reading of the book, Ian also sings every song that is referenced in the text.
She went on to say “I believe this would be called a stunning upset. My first Grammy nomination came when I was 15 years old. For better and for worse, I have watched my business become an industry—but one thing will never change. We don’t sell music. We sell dreams.
“I am so proud of this audiobook, a tremendous collaboration with Audible and my director, Stefan Rudnicki. The opportunity to sing and play while telling my story was terribly special, and I am grateful for the great skill and care Audible brought to the production.”
Ian previously won a Grammy in 1975 for At Seventeen as Best Pop Vocal Performance. That year, she set the record for most nominations by a female artist with 5, also receiving nominations for Album of the Year and Best Engineered Recording for Between the Lines and Record and Song of the Year nods for Seventeen. In 1966 she was nominated for Best Folk Performance for Society’s Child, in 1979 for Best Jazz Duet (Silly Habits with Mel Torme), in 1981 for Best Children’s Recording (Sesame Street: In the House) and in 1992 for Best Contemporary Folk Album (Breaking Silence).