Janis spent much of her adolescence listening to Odetta, who was also the first person Janis imitated when she started singing. Legend has it that Janis discovered she could sing when she mastered an Odetta song. Although people disagree about their whereabouts that day, they all remember the moment Janis "did" Odetta. Tired of listening to her friends butcher an Odetta song, Janis suddenly broke out in a voice that sounded like she'd conjured her up. The guys fell silent from the shock, "dumbfounded," recalls Moriaty. "She just burst out and sounded exactly like Odetta. That showed us up. We used to sing folk songs on our way driving anywhere. Well, after that, we still did, but it wasn't the same. We weren't all in the same class anymore."
Tary Owens remembers Janis declaring, "Hey, I think I have a voice."