Janiva Magness

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Janiva Magness
Rawa Blues Festival Janiva Magness 002.jpg
Background information
Born (1957-01-30) January 30, 1957 (age 62)[1]
Detroit, Michigan, United States
GenresElectric blues, soul[2]
Occupation(s)Singer, songwriter
Years active1980s-present
LabelsVarious including NorthernBlues, Alligator, Blue Elan.
WebsiteOfficial website

Janiva Magness (born January 30, 1957)[1] is a Grammy Award[3] nominated American blues, soul, and Americana singer and songwriter. To date she has released twelve albums.[2]

The Blues Foundation named Magness the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year in 2009, becoming only the second woman, after Koko Taylor, to be so honored.[4] The award was presented by B.B. King himself and Bonnie Raitt. In 2014 she released her first album of all originals entitled Original which earned her the award for Song of the Year.[5] Magness has earned seven Blues Music Awards with 26 similar nominations.[6][7][8] USA Today stated, "Magness is a blues star."[9]

Life and career[edit]

Magness was born in Detroit, Michigan, but suffered the tragedy of losing both of her parents to suicide before she reached her mid-teens.[2] Placed in a series of a dozen foster homes,[10] Magness was pregnant at the age of 17 and gave her baby daughter up for adoption.[9]

Having been initially inspired by the music in her father's record collection, an underage Magness attended an Otis Rush concert in Minneapolis that changed her outlook.[2] Magness later recalled, "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."[9] Studying to become an engineer, she worked in a recording studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota, when she was coerced into doing some backing singing.[11] Her work, which included backing Kid Ramos and R. L. Burnside,[11] led her to Phoenix, Arizona and in forming her own band, the Mojomatics. They enjoyed local success before Magness relocated in 1986 to Los Angeles.[1] Her first album More Than Live was released in 1991, her second release titled It Takes One to Know One, was released in 1997.[2] In 1999, Magness starred in a stage production of It Ain't Nothin' But the Blues, at the David Geffen Theater in Westwood, Los Angeles.[12]

Three independent releases followed before Magness was signed to a recording contract by NorthernBlues Music. They released Bury Him at the Crossroads (2004) and Do I Move You? (2006).[2] Both albums were co-produced by Magness and Colin Linden, with the former earning them a Canadian Maple Blues Award for Producers Of The Year.[11] Do I Move You? reached number 8 on the Billboard Blues Album Chart.[9]

In 2008, Magness signed with Alligator Records releasing What Love Will Do. The Chicago Sun-Times stated, "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."[9] She toured widely in Canada, Europe and across the United States.[12]

The Devil Is an Angel Too, appeared in 2010,[11] and Stronger for It in 2012.[2] The latter included some of her own songs, the first album to do so since her debut effort in 1997.[11]

In 2013, Magness was nominated in five categories for more Blues Music Awards (BMA).[8] In 2014, Magness left Alligator Records re-launching her own label, Fathead Records, and released Original,[13] saying, "I've had an entire career up to this point of being an interpreter of other people’s songs. And I’ve been fine with that. But it became necessary to change that thinking. This record is titled Original because its eleven original tracks. I’m co-writer on seven of the eleven tracks."[14]

Magness won her seventh BMA, the 'Contemporary Blues Female Artist' category, at the 2015 Blues Music Awards ceremony.[15] In 2016, she signed to Blue Elan Records which is also the home to Jack Tempchin, Gerry Buckley, and Rusty Baker.[16] Her most recent release was 2016's, Love Wins Again. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Blues Chart, number 2 on iTunes Blues, reached number 1 on the Blues radio chart, and spent two months on the Americana radio chart.[17][18] In late 2016, she performed at the Americana Music Conference and Festival in Nashville, to further cement her cross-over into the genre.[19]

Magness's 13th studio album Love Wins Again charted on the Billboard Heatseekers Top 25,[20] Billboard Blues Chart in the Top 5,[20] Living Blues Radio at #2,[21] and earned her first Grammy Award nomination.[22]


Magness has performed at various music festivals including Notodden Blues Festival (in 2007 and 2008), at Memphis in May (in 2006 and 2010), and Byron Bay Bluesfest (2016).[23]

Personal life[edit]

Magness is a national spokesperson for Casey Family Programs, promoting National Foster Care Month,[10] Foster Care Alumni of America, and Child Welfare League.[9]



Year Title Record label
1991 More Than Live Fathead Records
1997 It Takes One to Know One Fathead Records
1999 My Bad Luck Soul Blues Leaf Records
2001 Blues Ain't Pretty Blues Leaf Records
2003 Use What You Got Blues Leaf Records
2004 Bury Him at the Crossroads NorthernBlues Music
2006 Do I Move You? NorthernBlues Music
2008 What Love Will Do Alligator Records
2010 The Devil is an Angel Too Alligator Records
2012 Stronger for It Alligator Records
2014 Original Fathead Records
2016 Love Wins Again Blue Elan
2017 Blue Again Blue Elan
2018 Love Is An Army Blue Elan


See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Janiva Magness". Musicians.allaboutjazz.com. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Steve Leggett. "Janiva Magness". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  3. ^ "Grammys 2017: Complete list of winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-12. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  4. ^ "Janiva Magness Interview". Chicagobluesguide.com. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  5. ^ Minter, Will. "Album Premiere: Janiva Magness, Original". American Songwriter. The Craft of Music. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  6. ^ Nash, JD (2017-04-11). "WORLD PREMIERE - Smoking New Track From Janiva Magness, 'I Can Tell' - American Blues Scene". American Blues Scene. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  7. ^ "Foster Care « Janiva Magness". Janivamagness.com. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  8. ^ a b "Blues Music Awards Nominees - 2013 - 34th Blues Music Awards". Blues.org. Retrieved 2013-03-20.
  9. ^ a b c d e f "Janiva Magness's Biography". Last.fm. 2012-07-04. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  10. ^ a b Mark Guarino. "Janiva Magness: She's earned the right to sing the blues". CSMonitor.com. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  11. ^ a b c d e "Profile & Discography for Blues Singer Janiva Magness". Blues.about.com. 2012-09-06. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  12. ^ a b "NorthernBlues Music - Janiva Magness Biography". Northernblues.com. 2006-09-01. Retrieved 2012-12-05.
  13. ^ Steve Leggett. "Original - Janiva Magness - Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  14. ^ Calvin Powers. "Ep#217 Janiva Magness finds her safety net". Americana Music Show Podcast. Retrieved 27 October 2014.
  15. ^ "2015 Blues Music Awards Winners". Americanbluesscene.com. Retrieved 2015-05-18.
  16. ^ "Janiva Magness". Blue Elan Records. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  17. ^ "Janiva Magness' new album 'Love Wins Again' coming April 8 on Fathead/Blue Elan Records". Blues Magazine.
  18. ^ "Janiva Magness' "Love Wins Again" premieres at #5 on the BILLBOARD BLUES CHART!". Blue Elan Records.
  19. ^ "AmericanaFest Announces Final Round of Showcase". The American Music Association. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  20. ^ a b "Janiva Magness - Chart history | Billboard". www.billboard.com. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  21. ^ "Living Blues Radio Chart April 2016 - Living Blues Magazine". Living Blues Magazine. 2016-05-05. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  22. ^ "Grammys 2017: Complete list of winners and nominees". Los Angeles Times. 2017-02-12. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-07-20.
  23. ^ Jonny, Nail. "Bluesfest 2016 Announce First Line-up". Rolling Stone Australia. Retrieved 3 November 2016.
  24. ^ "Janiva Magness Sings Etta". Elmore Magazine. 2017-05-09. Retrieved 2017-07-20.

External links[edit]