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December 4, 2017



She’s reunited with producer Dave Darling for her 14th album, which fuses the classic sounds of Memphis and Nashville with a modern focus on songs that balance love, hope and protest.

Guests on this Americana-Soul album are Americana pillars Delbert McClinton, Poco’s Rusty Young and Della Mae’s Courtney Hartman, as well as prolific blues artists Charlie Musselwhite and Cedric Burnside

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — After Janiva Magness added a 2016 Grammy nomination to her 26 Blues Music Award nominations — with seven wins, including Entertainer of the Year — she might have taken at least a short rest on her laurels. Instead, one of the preeminent voices in contemporary American roots music has raised the bar for herself. Magness’ 14th album, Love Is an Army, is a brilliantly crafted bridge between the past and present, blending the echoes of classic soul and Americana music with timeless themes of love and the very contemporary sound of protest.

Love Is an Army ’s dozen songs reverberate with the character of the enduring Memphis Rhythm & Blues patented by the Stax and Hi Records studios, especially in tracks like “Back to Blue,” which opens the album and sets its tone, and “Hammer,” which features Charlie Musselwhite on harmonica. Another Tennessee music city, Nashville, is the geographic touchstone for the title number, a duet with Texas singer-songwriter Bryan Stephens, and for “On and On,” with Poco frontman Rusty Young on pedal steel guitar. Like Magness, both Stephens and Young are on Blue Élan Records. Other guest artists include the legendary Grammy-winning R&B singer Delbert McClinton, Grammy-nominated Mississippi hill-country blues torchbearer Cedric Burnside, and Americana Music Award-nominated bluegrass guitar and banjo virtuoso Courtney Hartman from the band Della Mae.

Magness’ inspired vocal performances unify all the elements of Love Is an Army and serve as a beacon for her coterie of guests. She displays new heights in her clarion tone and elegant phrasing, which are laid bare to the soul in the stone gospel voice-and-piano arrangement of “Some Kind of Love.” But the core of the album is, of course, the songs that Magness and her cast serve superbly in their performances. And many of those songs are essentially protest numbers, so it’s fitting they take musical inspiration from the ’60s and ’70s recordings by the likes of The Staple Singers and Al Green, whose lyrics about strength and love cut through the hubris and deceit that surrounded the Civil Rights struggle and the Vietnam War like a laser.

Dave Darling and I had a real sense of urgency when we were writing and recording this album,” Magness explains. “What led the album was the lyrics, and the things that are happening right now — the division, the racism, the violence, and our leaders’ lack of concern about basic human issues like health care and poverty. The first song Dave and I wrote was ‘Love Is an Army,’ and then David brought in ‘Home,’ and the direction of the album was clear.” Dave Darling has produced six albums that garnered Grammy nominations. His collaborations include albums with Brian Setzer, Glen Campbell, Dan Hicks, and the Stray Cats.

Magness considers the title song a rallying call and an expression of her sense of purpose. “When I sing ‘you know that I will fight for you/There’s no divine inspiration/Something else calls us here/And our hearts know what to do,’ I really mean it. Now, in particular, it’s once again important for us all to do the right thing, and I’m willing to do that, regardless of the cost.”

“Home,” a duet with Cedric Burnside, is equally galvanizing. “Mom and pop protect the borders,” Magness testifies over a deep groove punctuated by handclaps and tambourine. “Draw the line deep in the sand/Load the guns for sons and daughters/To steal freedom of another woman and man.” Burnside reinforces the lyrics with a heart-searing performance that balances his earnest singing with burly psychedelic guitar tones that sting like an angry bee.

“I realize that this album might be a challenge for some of my fans,” Magness says — although her singing and the album’s rich arrangements are a panacea throughout. “But I need to be honest, and I’ve always been a fighter.”

As if spotlighting that, Magness carried a pair of boxing gloves on the cover of 2016’s Love Wins Again, which earned her a Grammy nomination and cemented her crossover success in the Americana music scene. That year she also performed at the Americana Music Association’s annual festival in Nashville. And, indeed, Magness fought some tough battles before she launched her career. She lost both parents to suicide as a child and was placed in a dozen foster homes. But, inspired by the encouragement of her final foster mother and a galvanizing performance by the legendary bluesman Otis Rush, she found stability and salvation in music.

Since the early ’90s, Magness has built an impressive career in American roots music, brick by hard-earned brick. She has traveled millions of miles, sung on thousands of club and festival stages, and made a string of recordings — including five albums and the 2017 EP of standards, Blue Again, with Darling — that have earned accolades and awards.

Beginning with 2014’s Original, she has also emerged as a talented songwriter. That album entered the Billboard blues chart — where her titles routinely appear — at number five and topped the blues radio charts, as did Love Wins Again, which remained in the top 10 for seven months and crossed over to the Americana charts. Those two albums spent several weeks each on the Americana radio chart including the Top 25. She is only the second woman, following blues giant Koko Taylor, to receive the honor of B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, presented to her by B.B. King himself and Bonnie Raitt, and she has been keeping up with year-around touring throughout the U.S., in Europe, and even as far as Australia and India recently.

“Getting a Grammy nomination was a dream,” Magness offers. “I never thought I’d be a Grammy-nominated artist. But I guess I also feel a certain amount of pressure to follow that with an album that really makes a statement — a statement about who I am and what I believe and the music I love. Love Is an Army does all of that, and I hope it helps somebody else to be as inspired and empowered as I was when we were making it.”

# # #

December 6, 2016

A fourth Grammy nod for Bobby Rush, whose Porcupine Meat is nominated in Best Traditional Blues Category, while Janiva Magness scores first nom
with Love Wins Again in Best Contemporary Blues category.
Ceremony is February 12 in Los Angeles.

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Two of blues’ biggest names, Mississippi legend Bobby Rush and contemporary artist Janiva Magness, received Grammy nominations in the 59th Annual Grammy Awards announcements this morning. The awards will be announced at the Grammy Awards ceremony on February 12, 2017 in Los Angeles.

It’s Rush’s fourth nomination, this one for his critically acclaimed Rounder Records debut album Porcupine Meat. With special guests Dave Alvin, Joe Bonamassa, Keb’ Mo’, and Vasti Jackson, and backing from the New Orleans “A” team, the release cemented Bobby Rush’s legacy as the most vital blues artist of his generation. Producer was Rounder’s Scott Billington. Rush is a 10-time Blues Music Award winner, and 41-time nominee.

Rush was previously nominated for his albums Hoochie Man (2000), Down in Louisiana (2013) and Decisions with the band Blinddog Smokin’ (2014).

“How much you wanna bet he finally wins that Grammy?” predicted Goldmine magazine of the album, while No Depression enthused: “Buckle up or if you prefer hang on tight and get ready for one of the funkiest, most jaw dropping rides you have ever been on that is going to take you down in the mud and muck of southwestern Louisiana and to heights that you didn’t think you could ever reach. Yes, already a first runner for Record of the Year.”

Responding to the announcement, Rush said, “This is the greatest thing to ever happen to me in my life, for being with the competition around me. I want everyone to win, but I certainly want to win. Just being in the race is to be a winner. Somebody has to win and somebody has to lose. I’m not a sore loser especially with people like this. The category is so strong.”

Janiva Magness Love Wins Again album on Blue Élan Records was another evolutionary step for the soulful, elegant, award-winning singer-songwriter. Its 11 core songs and two bonus tracks were built on a sonically sophisticated architecture that’s in full service of her remarkably flexible and generous voice. The album shattered genre barriers by enshrining elements of Americana, soul, rock, pop, country and blues, and helped Magness cross over into Americana (she charted Top 30 on the format’s radio chart and performed at the Americana Music Festival & Conference). The album reached #1 on Blues radio and remained in the Top 10 for seven months. Magness is a seven-time Blues Music Award recipient and a 25-time nominee.

According to Downbeat, “Janiva Magness is one lucky woman: Her singing is soulful and intimate.” Living Blues called it “a knockout addition to Janiva Magness’ stellar catalog.”

On her first-ever Grammy nomimation, Magness said, “I am profoundly humbled by today's Grammy nomination announcements. Standing in very tall cotton. Love Wins Again for Best Contemporary Blues Album. Thanks so much producer Dave Darling, Blue Élan , my band, Jeff DeLia and 72 Music Management, Cary Baker and Conqueroo, John Oszajca, Leslie Rouffe, Frank Roszak, and Atomic Music Group! Wow!”

Both Rush and Magness are managed by 72 Music Management.

# # #


February 12, 2016


Award-winning performer’s 12th album, out April 8, continues her heralded partnership with Grammy nominated producer Dave Darling, and is her first release via Blue Élan Records

Love Wins Again comes following a Blues Music Award and 2014’s top Billboard-, blues radio-, and Americana radio-charting album Original

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Janiva Magness ’ new album, Love Wins Again, out on April 8, 2016 on Fathead Records/Blue Élan Records, is yet another evolutionary step for the soulful, elegant, award-winning singer-songwriter. Its 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. Love Wins Again shatters genre barriers by enshrining elements of Americana, soul, rock, pop, country and blues. 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.

“Love is a bigger power than hate and darkness,” Magness explains. “ It ’s easy to forget that when we’re struggling or when the world often seems frightening and out of control. But love can transcend barriers between people and cultures, and bring us closer in ways we might not have imagined. Love can also be frightening. It requires opening yourself up and taking risks, but in the end, love will always win.”

Love Wins Again marks Magness ’ fifth collaboration with four-time Grammy nominated producer Dave Darling, whose credits include Glen Campbell, Brian Setzer, Mötley Crüe ’s Nikki Sixx, John Waite and Stray Cats, and whose instincts compel Magness to tap her deepest creative powers and lead her songs to unpredictable places. He has become her key songwriting foil and is the primary architect of the album’s gorgeous textural sound, which blends acoustic and electric instruments, flourishes of Latin percussion, horns and an enlightened approach to the studio to create perfect settings for her vocal prowess. More than just expert range and craft, Magness’ voice rings with sincerity. With songs like “Love Wins Again ,” “Doorway” and “Say You Will ,” Magness has proven that she is an accomplished storyteller and diviner or the heart, whose songs reveal life’s potent truths.

“Love Wins Again” begins the album with a zesty, groove-propelled message that’s part manifesto and part testimonial. Magness’ joyful melody soars above the song’s bed of percolating percussion and ringing R&B guitar. Love won again in multiple ways in Magness’ own life last year, through the completion of her memoir, launching a musical based on her life story and again when she married English bluesman and singer-songwriter T.J. Norton.

Even when Magness is sending a warning flare in her state-of-the-world address “ Your House Is Burnin ’ Down, ” she does it with grace. The tune’ s “ get up ” call to action, sung with a handful of gravel in her voice, and its punching horns and high-energy beat invoke the urgency and drama of early James Brown.

Following up her last album is no easy task. Original , from 2014, marked her debut as a songwriter and raised the creative bar for her collaborations with Darling. It entered the Billboard blues chart — where her releases routinely appear — at number five and topped the blues radio charts. Original also scored her seventh Blues Music Award, for Contemporary Blues Female Artist. In addition, the album received a Best Song nomination for “Let Me Breathe,” co-written with Darling. The same honor was bestowed upon the songwriting team in 2013 for “I Won’t Cry.” Altogether, Magness has been nominated for 25 Blues Music Awards and follows the legendary Koko Taylor as the second woman to win the highly coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award.

Original also revived her own label, Fathead Records, after a six-year stint with the internationally respected blues imprint Alligator Records. “It was really time to get out on my own again and take full control of my music,” Magness says. That change also reflected her rising status in the Americana music scene — where Original climbed into the Top 20 on the radio chart — alongside such similarly tough, soulful and literate artist s as Mavis Staples, Sharon Jones, and Bettye LaVette.

Love Wins Again is being released via Blue Élan Records, an artist-friendly label headed by Kirk Pasich, who shares Magness’ interest in working on behalf of at-risk youth. Magness is an alumnus of the foster care system and is a spokesperson for Casey Family Programs National Foster Care Month as well as an Ambassador for both the Foster Care Alumni of America and the Child Welfare League of America.

Magness explores her own turbulent youth, her rise to stardom and more in her just-finished, as-yet-untitled memoir — a book that took three years to write that has already inspired an in-the-works musical. Her various trials — losing both parents to suicide as a young girl, traversing through 12 foster homes and giving up a child for adoption at age 17 — left Magness in the deepest despair. But ultimately, inspired by the encouragement of her final foster mother and a galvanizing performance by the legendary bluesman Otis Rush, she found stability and salvation in music.

Today Janiva Magness is one of the most beloved figures in the Americana, blues and roots music world. She’s reached a larger and more diverse audience with each succeeding album and developed a reputation as a live entertainer that’s made her a staple of the international festival circuit.

Janiva Magness Tour Dates March-May 2016

Sun., March 13 BETHLEHEM, PA Blast Furnace Blues Fest
Tue., March 15 CLEVELAND, OH Beachland Ballroom
Wed., March 16 DAYTON, OH Jimmy’s Ladder
Thur., March 17 CHICAGO, IL City Winery
Fri., March 18 INDIANAPOLIS, IN The Jazz Kitchen
Sat., March 19 RIVERSIDE, IA Riverside Casino & Resort
Thurs., Sat.-Mon., March 24-28 BYRON BAY, Australia Byron Bay Bluesfest
Sat., April 16 SAN FRANCISCO, CA Biscuits & Blues
Tue.-Wed., April 19-20 SEATTLE, WA Jazz Alley
Fri., Sat. April 22-23 PORT WASHINGTON, WA Upstage
Wed., April 27 SELLERSVILLE, PA Sellersville Theater
Thur., April 28 SHIRLEY, MA Bull Run
Fri., April 29 FALL RIVER, MA Narrow Center for Performing Arts
Sat., April 30 MANHATTAN, NY The Cutting Room
Sun., May 1 WARRENDALE, PA Jergel’s
Tue., May 3 WASHINGTON, DC The Hamilton
Sat., May 7 - MEMPHIS, TN - Rum Boogie


LISTEN NOW: PopMatters premiered the title track "Love Wins Again":



April 22, 2014


Award-winning performer’s eleventh release, out June 24, 2014,
brings her songwriting skills and stunning range to the fore,
with help from Grammy nominated producer Dave Darling

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Janiva Magness’ new album Original stretches the artistic boundaries of roots, rock and soul music. Its 11 songs seamlessly weave all three genres into a highly original approach defined by nakedly honest storytelling and the live-wire emotionalism of Magness’ two-and-a-half octave range, buoyed by arrangements that effortlessly blend traditional sounds with edgy experimentation.

“Let Me Breathe” opens Original with the amplified chunk of an electric guitar and the chime of a glockenspiel followed by the confessional lines, “Nobody’s perfect/Nobody knows that more than me,” setting a tone of frank self-assessment that resonates throughout the entire set, from the Stax-influenced celebration of dignity “Mountain” to the wanton “I Need A Man” to the concluding “Standing,” which confronts insecurity with true survivor’s resolve.

Magness had much to overcome in making this adventurous album. Since 2010 she’s endured the dissolution of a 17-year marriage, the deaths of eight friends and relatives including her foster mother, and an operation for a serious neck injury that could have ended her accolade-filled career. But Original finds the Los Angeles-based artist undefeated — turning in her finest recorded vocal performances, co-writing a majority of tracks for the first time and testing herself by taking risks along with her production foil Dave Darling, whose credits include Glen Campbell, Brian Setzer, Mötley Crüe’s Nikki Sixx and Stray Cats, and whose instincts compelled Magness to tap her deepest creative powers and led the songs to sonically unpredictable places.
“I always want to push myself,” she explains, “but this album demanded a high level of vulnerability to tell the absolute truth in every song, holding nothing back. It was frightening, at times, to be so raw in public. Dave drove me and even tricked me when he needed to. This is also an album that couldn’t be made with another record company, because we needed to be able to go wherever we wanted musically to tell its stories.”

So Magness parted ways with Alligator Records after a six-year period that included 2012’s Stronger For It, 2010’s The Devil Is An Angel Too and 2008’s What Love Will Do, all produced by Darling. During her tenure on the internationally respected blues and roots imprint Magness also won her fourth Blues Music Award for “Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year” plus the “B.B. King Entertainer of the Year” and “Song of the Year” (for “I Won’t Cry,” co-written with Darling) awards, even as she became a fixture of the Americana music scene alongside such similar tough ’n’ edgy roots-based artists as Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and St. Paul and the Broken Bones.
It’s hard, indeed, to pigeonhole Magness, who kick starts Original’s transcendent creative centerpiece “When You Were My King” with her voice alone — albeit bathed in a psychedelic pool of reverb, then accompanied by a jingling moth larva shaker and a snare drum that sounds snatched from a contemporary R&B hit, which in turn relents to the soulful call of Darling’s reverb soaked blues guitar. The song goes on to build an organic electric and acoustic framework around Magness’ warm-blooded, hook-heavy vocal melody, ultimately conjuring the regret and lost magic of a disintegrated relationship with breathless passion.

Magness says that tune might not have happened if Darling hadn’t lured her to his studio to “work on a vocal part.” When she arrived the hit Australian songwriting team of Lauren Bliss and Andrew Lowden were lying in wait. “If Dave had said, ‘I have these people here that I want you to write with,’ I would have made an excuse and begged off,” she relates. Instead, they co-wrote “When You Were My King” and “Standing,” two of the album’s most intensely emotional and superbly crafted tunes. Magness’ friend Dan Navarro of the singer-songwriter team Lowen & Navarro also pitched in, singing on the duet “With Love” and contributing background vocals to “Standing” and “Let Me Breathe.”

Magness co-wrote seven of Original’s numbers, overcoming a longstanding phobia. “I’ve been afraid of writing songs for most of my career,” she confides. “I was worried I wouldn’t be good at it, or that I would be really good at it. I was married to a great songwriter, and I didn’t want songwriting to be an issue in any way between us.”

But after she and Jeff Turmes split in 2010, Magness began writing under Darling’s encouragement. They co-penned three tunes for Stronger For It. And this time it’s her lyrics and performances that breathe life into Original’s gripping emotional arc —a musical journey through loss and triumphant recovery that reflects her own experiences.

“I’ve always wanted life to be simpler than it is,” she offers. “When I was a young girl, and then a young woman, I really yearned for that. Now I’m a full-grown woman and I understand that life is never black and white. Losing loved ones, losing attachments and relationships, and grieving over it all are things we have to live with. If we can get through that with our souls intact, we learn how to become stronger and to move on with hope and dignity toward whatever comes next.”

For Magness, who is writing a memoir, such challenges arrived early. Her teenage years were turbulent after both of her parents took their own lives. She was placed in a series of 12 foster homes and at age 17 gave birth to a daughter who she gave up for adoption. Magness’ despair was so deep that she tried to end her life. But ultimately, inspired by the encouragement of her final foster mother and a galvanizing performance by the legendary bluesman Otis Rush, she eventually found stability and salvation in music.

Since the release of her debut album More Than Live in 1992, Magness has relentlessly pursued her craft to become one of the most beloved figures in the blues and roots world, reaching a larger and more diverse audience with each succeeding album and developing a reputation as a live entertainer that’s made her a staple of summer festivals. Her collaborations with Darling, in particular, have greatly expanded her fan base as well as her stylistic command. And she has lent her singular voice to the cause of foster care activism, becoming a spokesperson for Casey Family Programs’ National Foster Care Month and an Ambassador for Foster Care Alumni of America.

The fact that Magness’ voice was jeopardized in December 2012 by surgery that left her unable to speak for several weeks makes her performances on Original all the more impressive. In tunes like the powerful “Twice As Strong” and “Badass,” the epic “When You Were My King” and the intimate “Standing” she displays the entire scope of her vocal range — from confidential whisper to soaring declamation — on one of her own albums for the first time.

Magness thanks L.A. vocal coach and cantor Nate Lamm for teaching her how to sing in a way that provides a more sweeping command of her instrument. “I’ve pushed myself hard on vocal sessions for other people” — including Glen Campbell and R.L. Burnside — “but this is the first time I’ve been able to tap every part of my own voice for my own songs,” she attests. “They required everything I had to tell their stories and to express everything that I was feeling about theses experiences.”

“Now, I’m really looking forward to getting out and performing these songs live,” the artist continues. “When you’re on stage in front of an audience that’s singing along to your own songs, there’s no better feeling — and no place I’d rather be — in the world.”