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As frontwoman for The Runaways, Joan Jett became a female pioneer in the male-dominated world of rock music. She is also a songwriter and producer.
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In 1999, Jett released Fetish, which featured a mix of old and new material. She took a long break between full studio efforts as she faced difficulties with her record company. Her next full studio album was 2004's Naked, quickly followed by 2006's Sinner, both of which she released through her own record label. Sinner marked a change in direction for Jett. The song "Riddles" was her first political song, which she wrote as "a commentary on the state of our country,
" she explained in Interview magazine.
Jett put out her latest studio album, Unvarnished, in 2013. The project gave her a chance to work such artists as Dave Grohl of Foo Fighters and Nirvana fame.
In recent years, Jett has had her music featured in several films and TV series, including The Runaways, Baby Mama and Shrek. Still, Jett continues to tour extensively and plays a variety of gigs. "I love playing fairs. I think they're great, because you get out and you see America. We always have wonderful, very boisterous crowds. You see families; you see lots of kids. And it's great," she said.
Jett has also taken an active part in signing bands to her record label. "We made Blackheart Records what we wanted it to be," Jett said. "It's a place where girls can feel comfortable to be—both in a work environment and on an artistic level." Current acts with Blackheart Records include Girl in a Coma and the Dollyrots.
In the film world, Jett has played an important role in the biopic The Runaways, a film based on Cherie Currie's biography Neon Angel: The Cherie Currie Story. She served as an executive producer on the project, and assisted actress Kristen Stewart with her portrayal of Jett. Jett gave the actress audio tapes from when she was 14 years old, which were meant to help Stewart capture Jett's distinct accent—"a combination of Maryland–East Coast–Philadelphia slang," Jett said. The two also spent a lot of time together. "I was there to be a resource for Kristen. She watched me a lot—the way I spoke . . . the way I moved in space, everything," she explained.
While away from work, Jett devotes much of her time to social causes. She is active with Farm Sanctuary, an animal protection organization. Jett is also a vegetarian, but says her "goal is to be vegan. It helps the animals and the earth." Jett is also a spokesperson for PETA.
It was her activism on behalf of animals that caused Jett some headaches in 2013. She was set to appear on the South Dakota tourism float at that year's Thanksgiving Day parade. But some ranchers from this state complained about Jett so the singer was moved to a different float.
According to an Associated Press report, Jett explained that she made the switch "because people's political agendas were getting in the way of what should be a purely entertainment driven event. I will remain focused on entertaining the millions of people watching, who will be celebrating a great American tradition."
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