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Janis Harper is a Vancouver singer-songwriter, writer, and actor. She also taught writing, literature, editing, and communications at university and college levels in and around Vancouver for many years (mainly at Simon Fraser University and Douglas College), before becoming an expressive arts therapist in private practice. (For more about her therapy practice, Rediscovery Through Expressive Arts Therapy, click on the peacock feather icon above or go to http://rediscovery.me).
Janis is a Vancouver singer-songwriter in the lyrical folk-roots tradition. She has been writing songs and playing guitar since she was 9 years old, and when she was 12, she played her original songs on the iconic Kitsilano Showboat and for community events. At 19, Janis was the house musical entertainer at the Sri Galaxy pub in Penang, Malaysia, and later performed on small stages in Sydney, Australia. By this time she had incorporated the Appalachian mountain dulcimer into her repertoire, having been taught by Rick Scott of Pied Pumkin how to play it in his special style. In her late twenties, she performed at Mac’s bar in Hiroshima, Japan, and some of this music is caught live on her first full-length recording (“Letters From Home,” audio tape, 1990). Her Vancouver duo, The Beautiful Losers (with the late great Neal Foisy), featured at coffee houses in the 2000’s. She has also performed in bars, restaurants, and resorts in Palolem and Agonda, Goa, India, including regular house gigs at the upscale H2O Agonda resort and the very popular Fusion bar. She currently can be seen performing on small Vancouver stages with her duo partner Jane Kalmakoff on accordion.
“Better This Way” (11 tracks) is a folk-roots album with songs that don’t all sound the same. “This is songcraft at its best: Harper’s lyrics sear into your heart, carried on melodic structures as natural as they come.” Although “Better This Way” is her first CD (2015 release), it is really a retrospective album because it brings together an eclectic selection of songs written and performed over Janis Harper’s long career as a singer-songwriter.
Janis has published journalism and scholarship, and seen her playwriting produced; she co-founded two local print periodicals, and her literary prose and some poetry have appeared widely in print magazines, literary journals, and anthologies, including Ars Medica, subTerrain, Reader’s Digest, Room, CV 2, Tessera, and Lost on Purpose: Women in the City (Avalon/Seal Press, 2005). Her first anthology of creative nonfiction, Body Breakdowns: Tales of Illness and Recovery (Anvil Press, 2007), was selected as “Editor’s Choice” in the September 2010 Reader’s Digest magazine, where it enjoyed a 26-page excerpt, and has been used as a text in several university and college courses. Her recent anthology of travel memoirs, which she also conceived, edited, and wrote six pieces for, Emails from India: Women Write Home (Seraphim Editions, 2013), is Janis’s love letter to India. She has presented her work across Canada, in the US, and at the 2014 Goa Arts and Literary Festival (GALF) in India (www.goaartlitfest.com).
Her recent philosophical novel, Jonas and The Mountain: A Metaphysical Love Story, is currently seeking publication, as is a poetry manuscript, After Each Exhale. She is currently working on a collection of essays tentatively titled The Enlightenment / Death Chronicles. Some of her published writing in literary (print) journals and anthologies may also be found online, in addition to reviews of her books, etc. For example, her story “What Happened” can be found online in the literary journal Tessera‘s archives. Click here for link. What Happened. Tessera. Vol.21
Having had a mother (Lily Harper) who helped begin professional theatre in Vancouver as a prominent leading lady on the stage (and CBC radio and TV), Janis grew up with theatre. She eventually found her way onto stages in independent theatre productions, and worked for a time for Character Creations, improvising client-social worker situations for the professional development of social workers. She has been trained for theatre and film/TV in various courses and workshops in Vancouver (Carousel Theatre School, Green Thumb Players, Mark Brandon’s Master Class, and others) and has acted on stages across Vancouver, the Lower Mainland, and BC. She has had leading and ensemble roles in “The Black Bonspiel of Wullie MacCrimmon” (Presentation House), “Ladies Who Lunch” (Metro Theatre), “A Rainbow of Sins” (The Cultch), “The Inspector General” (Theatre in the Raw), “Top Girls” (Theatre in the Raw), “12 Angry Jurors” (Theatre in the Raw), “West End Stories” (Theatre Positive), and “She’ll to the Wars” (New Play Festival), among others. Reviews of Janis’s acting may be found online. Also available online is the 2009 Hyundai TV commercial “i10 Hyundai Dreams” in which she is a prominent extra acting alongside the famous international movie star, Sharukh Khan, filmed in a Bollywood studio in Mumbai, India.