Singer and songwriter Liz Janes fell into a career in music almost by accident, which is surprising given the emotional power and confidence of her work.
Janes grew up in a suburb of Washington D.C., where was raised on a steady diet of AM radio before discovering classic blues, jazz, and gospel. Young Janes took piano lessons and began performing in student recitals, while also dropping in at jazz clubs in Philadelphia, but in her early teens, she developed a severe case of stage fright that soured her on live performing, though she continued to write songs in her spare time. When Janes moved to Olympia, Washington to attend college, she fell in with a group of musicians performing experimental noise music, and she soon changed her major from philosophy to art while also renewing her interest in music. In time, Janes had accumulated enough songs that she chose to document them, recording them informally on a four-track cassette machine at home. She never intended to distribute the recordings, but she gave a copy to her then-boyfriend Mike Kaufmann, who in turn passed it along to his friend Sufjan Stevens. Stevens was taken with Janes' songs and asked her to spend a couple days re-recording her songs at his home; Stevens then fleshed out the spare solo recordings with the accompaniment of a full band, and the results were released in 2002 on Stevens' Asthmatic Kitty label as Done Gone Fire. Critics praised Janes' strong, clear vocal style, and she recorded and toured with Stevens, Black Heart Procession, Soul-Junk, and Kaufmann's project Future Rapper. A second Liz Janes album, Poison & Snakes, was released in 2004, and a year later, Janes recorded an idiosyncratic set of classic folk songs with the ensemble Create(!). By this time, Janes and Kaufmann had married, and she opted to put her career on hold in order to raise a family. However, in addition to the chores that come with parenthood, Janes continued to write songs. In 2010 she found time to return to the studio and record the album Say Goodbye. ~ Mark Deming, Rovi