ON STAGE: Liza Ohlback stars in the tribute to the iconic Janis Joplin.
ON STAGE: Liza Ohlback stars in the tribute to the iconic Janis Joplin.

Paying homage to the pearl of rock 'n' roll

A PRODUCTION about a rock immortal whose individuality became a hallmark that both shocked and inspired a generation and to this day touches all ages is set to hit Lismore.

Written and Directed by Chris Keeble from Fish out a Water Productions, Pearl - The Janis Joplin Story is an interpretational musical presentation, celebrating a woman who exploded onto the music scene and quickly became the queen of rock 'n' roll and mother of thrift shop vintage funk.

Best remembered for her rebellious lifestyle, her distinctive voice and liberal outlook on life and love, the show pays homage to the legacy of a captivating woman who stunned fans with her extraordinary performances and simultaneously shattering stereotypes, leaving a life-long impression in the rock 'n' roll world.

Liza Ohlback, a unique singer specializing in with Soul, Jazz, and Blues, brings to life the tribute to Joplin.

We spoke to writer and director of the show, Chris Keeble, and star of the show, Liza Ohlback.

When researching for this show, was there anything from Joplin's life that surprised you or you did not expect?

Chris: I spent many hours reading about and listening to Janis. I was surprised at just how low her self esteem and belief in herself was. She had such talent but never really believed in it. Her upbringing was tough. Not only was she bullied at school her mother gave her such a hard time - Calling her a harlot at 14. She didnt even know what that meant and she was voted the Ugliest GUY in college - so I can now understand why her self esteem was low!

More than asking you what your favourite song of the show is, is there any song you have any personal connection to and why?

Liza: Move Over - Was the first song I ever sang in a band. I was too terrified to sing with anyone, and heard my brothers band playing this and I just had to get up and sing it so it has a special place for me! Emotionally, I connect with Woman Left Lonely - sums up the strength and fragility of women - beautiful.

Besides her fans, why do you think Joplin has influenced so many contemporary artists?

Chris: She was soul singer in a rock and roll world, so she crossed genres effortlessly and had a real impact on other peoples songs. As well as her own material she gave other artists songs a special treatment - so she would connect also with fans of other genres and music. For example To Love Somebody is a Bee Gees song and has been covered by over 30 artists, but no one does it quite like Janis Joplin and we deliver it her way during the show - spine tingling goosebumps stuff!

Is it physically hard to sing the way she did? How do you keep your vocal cords in shape?

Liza: Yes it is hard to sing her songs because every song is epic - emotionally and physically - and technically she was an amazing singer with a massive range! I never set out to copy her I just wanted to capture the raw emotion, power and the dynamics she presented. Being a Blues/Soul singer I have to be able to delve into a song and feel the torment and poignancy within it to deliver a good performance - and this is what Janis did better than anyone. It does take alot out of you.

As for looking after my voice - I don't drink or smoke I rest before a gig and I try to keep quiet and I do warm up alot.

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