Alligator Records Signs Janiva Magness
Alligator Records announced the signing of blues, soul and R&B vocalist Janiva Magness. A 30-year veteran of the music scene, Magness has a soulful, husky voice and absolute command over her material. Winner of the 2006 and 2007 Blues Music Awards for Best Contemporary Female Artist Of The Year, Magness' steady ascension to the top of the blues world will undoubtedly continue its upward trajectory.
Magness has seven solo recordings to her credit and has made countless guest appearances on CDs from Kid Ramos, RL Burnside, Doug MacLeod, Jeff Turmes and others. Her presence on stage is legendary, as she performs 200 nights a year at clubs, festivals, and concert halls all over the world. A survivor of an impossibly rough childhood, Magness' life experience informs her music in a way that is both brutally honest, emotionally moving and, above all, spiritually healing.
According to Alligator president Bruce Iglauer, signing Magness was a natural move for the label. "I've been watching Janiva over the last few years and seeing her mature into a major artist. Her deep, subtle understanding of blues and R&B music is obvious in every note she sings. Plus, her live performances simply captivate the audience. She's going to be a wonderful addition to the Alligator roster, and prove to be one of today's and tomorrow's crucial blues voices."
And Magness is equally thrilled. "I am so very grateful for all the gifts in my life. One of those gifts is joining the Alligator family. I'm very excited about this new chapter in my life. This is a huge step up for my career."
Born in Detroit, Magness was inspired by the blues and country she heard on 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 time she was 16. She lived on the streets, was in 12 foster homes in two years, became a teenage mother who gave her baby up for adoption, bounced from city to city, and felt hopeless and desperate.
One winter's night, Magness hitchhiked across Minneapolis to attend an Otis Rush concert, and for the first time saw her future. "It opened up some other place in me, like letting oxygen into a sealed crypt for the first time." 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 listened to James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, and all the other R&B greats.
It was music, particularly the blues, that sparked the young woman. Several years later, while working as an intern at a recording studio, she was approached 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, and within the year was named the city's Best Blues Band by the influential Phoenix New Times. She moved to Los Angeles in 1986 and slowly began finding work. She married musician and songwriter Jeff Turmes with whom she recorded her first studio album, It Takes One To Know One, in 1997. After three more independent releases, Janiva signed with Northern Blues, and recorded Bury Him At The Crossroads in 2004 and Do I Move You? in 2006. Both CDs were co-produced by Magness along with Canadian roots star Colin Linden, and both garnered Magness a massive amount of critical and popular attention. Magness and Linden won the prestigious Canadian Maple Blues Award for Producers Of The Year for Bury Him At The Crossroads in 2004. Do I Move You? was the #1 Blues CD Of The Year in 2006 on Living Blues magazine's radio chart.
In addition to her musical accomplishments, Magness is active in the Blues In Schools programs as well as being a National Spokesperson for Casey Family Programs promoting National Foster Care Month year round, a position she is honored to hold. She has reconnected with her daughter, and is now the proud grandmother of a six-year-old boy. "I have a life today I never could have imagined, " says Magness. "The tragedies of my life no longer define me."
What defines Janiva Magness is the strength, power and passion of her deeply soulful, emotionally moving music, sung with truth and soul-shaking talent. With plans to return to the recording studio shortly, Magness is busy mapping out her upcoming Alligator debut while simultaneously barnstorming across the country. With the stars seemingly all lined up for her, Janiva Magness will delight her current fans and earn legions of new admirers all around the globe.
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