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Robert Neil Speaks with...

Oct 28, 2017

About two years ago, Sarah Partridge began working on a project to bring new life to Janis Ian’s songs by presenting them with fresh jazz interpretations.  Ian, who debuted during the folk scene of the 1960s, rose to fame with her hits “Society’s Child” (1967) and “At Seventeen” (1975), and she’s written numerous songs – some of which were previously unrecorded – that deal with social, political and relationship issues.

Partridge and her arrangers – Allen Farnham and Tim Horner – have mined Ian’s rich catalog of music for the tribute album Bright Lights and Promises: Redefining Janis Ian (Origin Records).  The selection of songs and new arrangements work so well, it’s a wonder no one has attempted this before.

Making the project even more special is Ian’s involvement. She co-wrote two new songs with Partridge, and Ian and Partridge perform a duet on one of those new songs, “A Quarter Past Heartache.”

On this episode of Documenting Popular Music, Partridge tells us how the album came together and how she was able to get Ian involved in the project.

You can find more about Sarah Partridge, who, before becoming a jazz singer, had an acting career that featured a role in the 1983 movie Risky Business, at the website,, and you can find more about Janis Ian at the website

Upcoming episodes of Documenting Popular Music will feature a look at Gordon Lightfoot’s career with author Nicholas Jennings, a conversation with Merrilee Rush (“Angel of the Morning”) and a look at the story behind one of Barry Manilow’s most beloved hits.