Award-winning vocalist Janiva Magness is among the premier blues and R&B singers in the world today. Her voice possesses an earthy, raw honesty and beauty born from her life experience. A charismatic performer known for her electrifying live shows, Magness is a gutsy and dynamic musical powerhouse. She received the coveted 2009 Blues Music Awards for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year and for Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year, an honor she also received in 2006 and 2007. She has received eleven previous Blues Music Award nominations. Magness has been performing for almost three decades, logging thousands of miles on the road and appearing 150 nights a year at clubs, theatres and festivals all over the world.
Her rise to the top was far from easy. 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 gave 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 decided 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.