Biography All Music Guide
All Music Guide:
Blues and soul singer Janiva Magness was no stranger to trouble and hard times growing up, and at her best, she pours that lifetime of emotion into her passionate phrasing and vocal delivery. Born in Detroit, Magness grew up with her father's blues and country record collection, as well as the city's wonderfully Motown pop-soul sound, all of which shaped her style and approach as a musician. She lost both of her parents to suicide while in her early teens, and she ended up living on the streets, channeled through endless foster homes, before becoming pregnant at the age of 17 and being forced to give up the child for adoption. Her personal and creative redemption came at an Otis Rush show in Minneapolis. Discouraged, stressed, and definitely underage, Magness snuck into the club and was transformed by Rush's performance. That was the moment, Magness maintains, that her vision of herself as a singer and musician began to take shape. She started out as a background singer, finally ending up in Phoenix in the early '80s, where she formed the Mojomatics, a popular local band. Magness next relocated to Los Angeles in 1986. A debut cassette, More Than Live, appeared in the mid-'90s, with her first CD, It Takes One to Know One, appearing in 1996, followed by three more independent releases. Magness signed with NorthernBlues Music and Bury Him at the Crossroads was issued by the label in 2004, with Do I Move You? following two years later in 2006. Magness began to draw a lot of critical and fan attention, particularly in the blues community, and her career was in full swing, garnering an armful of blues awards. She signed with Alligator Records in 2008, which issued What Love Will Do that same year, following it with The Devil Is an Angel Too in 2010 and Stronger for It in 2012. Original, which featured a dozen original Magness songs, appeared from her own Fat Head Records imprint in 2014.