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Rock goddess

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Looking back, Ramos says she could have gone home, but her pride prevented her from doing so.

“It wasn’t a situation where my mother was a tyrant,” she adds. “She was a strict Latina mom and I couldn’t deal with it.”

The experience helped shape the way she performs, which is all out.

“I know what it’s like to be a rock ‘n’ roll singer and pour all that emotion into every single song, to have to deal with the sacrifices that you make as a woman.

“You have to deal with stereotypes, with people assuming that you’re a lot wilder than you really are, with men being intimidated by your power. All those things continually put you in a lonely place. That’s what Janis, in my opinion, really died from, was the loneliness.”

She points to the cruelty of a world that expects its performers to be physically beautiful as well as talented.

“Janis was a real-looking woman and that made it even harder for her to find love. In that respect, it’s been hard for me because I’m not a White woman. As a woman of color, there’s this added thing where it’s like, ‘Hmm, culturally she’s different.’ ”

“The fans could care less what color I am and that’s what’s so great about people who love music.”

Ramos says she is constantly being asked if she’s half African American.

“I’m like, ‘No, Puerto Ricans come in this shade!’ ”

Despite having to put up with such attitudes, Ramos says it “puts you in a place where it’s really easy for me to understand Janis’s life.”

Even though she’s got a rep as a true rocker queen, Ramos cites the late Celia Cruz and one other particular Latina as having profound influences on her singing career. She recalls her father, who also was a singer, used to play records by La Lupe.

“La Lupe was a singer in the ’50s and early ’60s. Tito Puente discovered her. She was Puerto Rican and dark-skinned, like me. When she performed she was a ball of fire and rage, passion and agony. She would sweat, cry, and her mascara would be running down her face. She was intense,” Ramos says.

Ramos, who marks her first wedding anniversary this month with husband Nikolay Kreider, has much to celebrate.

“I’m so honored to be playing Janis,” noting that she and an African American singer are the only women of color to have assumed the role. “I think Janis, wherever she is, is having a hoot.”

HISTORY LESSON

Could your teenager use a class in rock? Or has it just been awhile since you’ve whipped your head around in time to the beat? Check out Sophia Ramos’ list of essential rock ‘n’ roll bands and performers online at latinopm.com!

‘Love, Janis’

Arizona Theatre Company

March 22 – April 9 (Tucson), $31-$51

Temple of Music and Art, 330 S. Scott Ave., Tucson.

Show times and dates vary
Tickets: $31 – $51.

Info: visit www.aztheatreco.org
or call (520) 622-2823.

April 14 – May 13 (Phoenix), $26-$62

Herberger Theater Center,
222 E. Monroe, Phoenix.

Info: visit www.aztheatreco.org
or call (602) 256-6995.

For info and tickets, visit www.actorstheatrePHX.org or call the Herberger Box Office, (602) 252-8497.

To learn more about Sophia Ramos, visit www.sophiaramos.com

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