At the young age of 15, Janis Martin was signed with RCA and given the nick name “The Female Elvis”. She was born March 27, 1940 in Virginia. She started playing the guitar at the age of 4. Influenced by country greats such as Hank Williams, by the time she was 6 she could sing and play country songs, and a few years later was singing with a country group. As a child she would sneak to the “black” churches and listen to them sing. Janis fell in love with the soulfull sounds. In 1953, she and her band were traveling along the east coast performing. She was listening to the radio and heard Ruth Brown singing- “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean” (another one of my personal favorites!). As soon as she heard it she knew it was the sound she was meant to sing. She began singing “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean” for her parents, then at her shows. Even though she sang to a country crowd- they loved it! The transition from country to Rockabilly was quick and natural for Janis. It wasn’t long before the label that signed Elvis Presley, and was looking for a Queen of Rockabilly to go with their King, found their girl. In 1956 RCA signed Janis Martin and labeled her “The Female Elvis”!
RCA, not knowing she had secretly eloped with her boyfriend two days before she had signed with them, worked hard to promote her “girl next door” image. In the 50’s that image was very important to people and not everyone was willing to accept the new Rockabilly sounds or dance moves. RCA was shocked and dissapointed to learn of her marriage when she arranged a visit to where her husband had been stationed. Teen marriage was not thought well upon, so when that arranged visit resulted in a pregnancy- the label dropped her. She finished recording the last song she had to in order to fullfill her obligation to them when she was 8 months pregnant. During that last song there were tears, not by her- but by one of the RCA men, because she had demolished that good girl teenage image they created for her and was so important to so many.
At the age of 59 Janis Martin was invited to perform at the 2nd Annual “Viva Las Vegas” Rockabilly Weekender. She was honored to by the crowd of people that knew and loved her music so many years later. Janis Martin died of cancer in 2007, but will always be remembered as one of the original Queens of Rockabilly and “The Female Elvis”. My favorite song of hers is “Love and Kisses“- it is just a fun, humorous, rejection song! Some of her other songs are “My Boy Elvis”, “Will You Willyum”, “Let’s Elope Baby” (which she didn’t write, it was just ironic), and “Drugstore Rock and Roll” (good song, has that Ruth Brown influence). I listen to all of these songs on You Tube and made the song “Love and Kisses” link to it so you can hear it and love it like I do, but if you want her whole collection of songs for your home or car go <a href="The Female Elvis: Complete Recordings 1956-60“>here!