PORT ARTHUR-By: Leslie Rangel
Port Arthur's iconic Janis Joplin would be celebrating her 70th birthday this week if she were still alive.
A former classmate of Joplin spoke with KFDM News about her younger years and her life in the spotlight.
"None of us ever knew who would be successful and who would not be, but Janice had an ability to sing. We knew that because she would sing folk music," Sam Monroe, president of Port Arthur State College said.
Monroe tells KFDM news they never really knew who would be successful from their class, but like many artists, Joplin started small.
"I heard her sing at what we used to call a hootenanny," Monroe says.
Monroe and Joplin were classmates and friends from kindergarten through high school. Monroe says Joplin was a star student, editor of the school newspaper, a writer and an artist. He says Jopin's love for music changed her.
"We don't think of folk music as being counter culture today, but in that day and time, it was sort of a protest style of music," Monroe remembers.
Joplin was often seen wearing what others called rebellious fashion. Her home in Port Arthur on 32nd St. still stands and now has a historical marker in the front yard. Monroe says she would have loved it.
"She would write or call her mother and say 'There was a feature on me today in the Washington Post, Do you think the Port Arthur News would carry it?' She wanted to be recognized in Port Arthur and she has been since 1988," Monroe says.
Janis Joplin died more than 40 years ago, but Monroe says he will always remember his friend and school mate.
The Museum of the Gulf Coast has a permanent Janis Joplin exhibit on display, Sunday, museum curators will open a new exhibit featuring more Joplin memories as part of the International Pop Music Festival.