Soul-Stirring Blues Vocals
Janiva Magness’ new album Love Wins Again is yet another evolutionary step for the soulful, elegant, award-winning singer-songwriter. It’s 11 core songs and two bonus tracks are built on a sonically sophisticated architecture that’s in full service of Magness’ remarkably flexible and generous voice—which can flow smoothly as champagne or churn up gravel on command. The album’s title is a mantra that resonates throughout: the concept of love as a physical, psychic and spiritual force that has the strength to conquer negativity, sadness and personal demons.
Magness is among the premier blues and R&B singers in the world today. Her voice possesses an earthy, raw honesty born from her life experience. Magness is a charismatic performer known for her electrifying live shows. A dynamic musical powerhouse, Janiva has received 22 Blues Music Award nominations to date, winning the coveted Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year (she is only the second woman to ever win this Award, Koko Taylor being the first). Additional wins include Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year in 2006, 2007, 2009 and 2013, as well as Song of the Year for her original composition “I Won’t Cry”, co-written with her producer Dave Darling.
Magness’ fame has been hard won. Born in Detroit, Magness was inspired by the blues and country she heard listening to her father’s record collection, and by the vibrant music of the city’s classic Motown sound. By her teenage years, though, her life was in chaos. She lost both parents to suicide by the age of 16 and lived on the streets, bouncing from one foster home to another. At 17, she became a teenage mother who had to give up her baby daughter for adoption. One night in Minneapolis, an underage Magness sneaked into a club to see blues great Otis Rush, and it was there that she found her salvation and discovered that the blues were her calling. Magness recalls, “Otis played as if his life depended on it. There was a completely desperate, absolute intensity. I knew, whatever it was, I needed more of it.” She began going to as many blues shows as possible, soaking up the sounds of her favorite artists, including Johnny Copeland and Albert Collins. She immersed herself in records by James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and all the other R&B greats.
Watching these artists live and listening to their recordings sparked Janiva and gave her life new direction and purpose. Her first break came several years later, while studying engineering and working as an intern at a recording studio in St. Paul, Minnesota. She was approached by her boss to sing some supporting vocals on a track. Finding her voice, she soon began working regularly as a background singer. By the early 1980s, Magness made her way to Phoenix and befriended Bob Tate, the musical director for the great Sam Cooke. With Tate’s mentoring, she formed her first band, Janiva Magness And The Mojomatics, in 1985 and soon after the influential Phoenix New Times named her group the city’s Best Blues Band. She moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and slowly began finding work.
In addition to her musical accomplishments, Magness reaches out to help others. She is a Spokesperson for Casey Family Programs National Foster Care Month Campaign (her sixth consecutive year) and an Ambassador for Foster Care Alumni of America, promoting National Foster Care Month. “It is a huge honor and a daunting responsibility. But I am very excited to be a part of this important work, and I look forward to carrying the message of hope for youth in the foster care system, and to alumni,” says Magness. “Casey Family Programs does groundbreaking work, and I am deeply honored to work with them again. Foster Care Alumni Of America is an amazing organization that focuses on adult alumni of the system.” Magness has also reconnected with her daughter, and is now a proud grandmother. “Our fate doesn’t have to be our destiny,” she says. “I’m living proof of that. And I’m so very grateful.”
What Other People Have Been Saying...
“Hopefully, this recording [Original] will bring the rest of the world to Janiva, and then they’ll know, like I know, that she’s one of the “real deals” out there.” — Bettye LaVette
“Sweet Soul Music is alive and kickin’!” — Mavis Staples
“One of the most fiery and original vocalists in contemporary blues and soul…Thoughtful, inventive and almost unerringly on the money.” — MOJO
“Magness is a bold and potent artist with a powerful, soulful voice…impossible to forget.” – Blues Revue
“Her songs run the gamut of emotions from sorrow to joy. A master of the lowdown blues who is equally at ease surrounded by funk or soul sounds, Magness invigorates every song with a brutal honesty,” – Chicago Sun-Times
“a blues interpreter of the highest rank…punchy and tough…swaggering, incendiary vocal performances.” – Blues Revue
“hard-hitting blues and soul.” – Wall Street Journal
“Accolades come easy when you’re this good. Magness is blessed with smoky, seductive pipes that bend the blues into pure enchantment. Her steely conviction is authentic, soulful and playful. The emotion rings true.” – Living Blues