LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Janis Carter may have been born and raised in Louisville, but her incredible voice and performance skills took her all around the world and gave her a spotlight on the prestigious Las Vegas Strip.
Janis was born in Beecher Terrace, raised in the West End, and graduated from Shawnee before going on to fame as one of the original members of the R&B recording group from Louisville "The Newbirth." She then made a name for herself.
Now she made the decision to return home to care for her aging mother. When you run into Janis today she is always ready with a warm smile and a fun story about her life. (She shared with me that the fabulous beret she had when we met on was purchased in Paris.)
After 40 years in show business, Janis was recently awarded with a Dream Award, to recognize mostly African American entertainers in Las Vegas who are deemed legends by their peers and fans alike. Lucky for us, she has some future shows she is planning to produce.
Here are my five questions with Janis Carter:
1) Your documentary about your life is almost finished. What inspired you to take on this project?
I decided a few years back it was time to document my journey; to tell my story, which at this juncture of my life, it's more about my mother than it is about me. Life itself is writing this stage. She knew my talents way before I paid them any attention, so she was always the star of my show.
2) You were recently awarded a Dream Award in Las Vegas, given to people who have reached outstanding achievements. What do you feel is your biggest contribution?
The showmanship, stage presence and crowd like-ability made many of us honored 'must sees' for tourists, and household names for Las Vegans. I was fortunate to be among the next generation of performers to come after the Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dean Martin and the Rat Pack era - late 70s early 80s. The award was the Dream of a very well known and talented MC James 'Fashion plate' Payton, now deceased, brought to life by his widow Mable Buckner Payton of Chicago. It was the first award of its kind for Las Vegas.
3) In today's world of reality singing competitions on television many feel they can be a star. What do you feel it takes?
The priceless exposure can take them to the next level or even pave the way for a viable career in the music business, if they take advantage and do the work. This is something I too would love to share with talented youth in Louisville with my Louisville All Stars Program.
4) You made the choice to return to Louisville to care for your 91-year-old mother. How has being a caretaker changed the way your view life?
I've always been very practical along with being a risk-taker along my journey. Having lost my father in 1996, eight years later it was time to come home, to be closer to my mother who had been living alone since the loss of her husband. Everything I've ever asked God for it's been given to me. I worked hard to hone my craft and have a respectable career as a performing artist, not a recording artist. The essence of my singing career was not just hearing me sing but seeing me perform and everything that goes with that, the choice of material, delivery, stage presence, attire, etc. Being a caregiver is God's plan for me. I too am considered a ''senior" and care giving is another responsibility that comes with having aging parents, especially one who has supported me every step I took along the way. She was there at every performance possible, shared in all the glory of the glitz and glamour, every pursuit of new goals, guiding me along the way with 'Mama said' anecdotes of life. So to answer your question, my basic mission has been accomplished, the current agenda just changed.
5) What is your perfect day in Louisville?
First, hearing my Mother say, "There's my baby" when I first enter her room, followed by the first of many kisses and sporadic chats on the phone with my husband Jack. Prepare breakfast for mama, make business calls, respond to texts, clean house. Call someone I haven't spoken to in a while, plan dinner, take a nap (when she takes nap), work on some future project while watching television and then prepare dinner. I end the day with Jack while watching the news, put Mama to bed, glass of wine, talk to niece in Minnesota over video chat with new great nephew baby Rockstar 'Emery', handsome baby! Then lights out.