WEEKEND: Blues singer Janiva Magness in Port Townsend on Saturday

By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News

“Whistlin' in the Dark,” “I Won't Cry,” “Make It Rain,” “Things Left Undone”: Janiva Magness' songs are about defiance of the past and hope for the road ahead. And the singer, whose awards include B.B. King Entertainer of the Year, is bringing her music back to Port Townsend this Saturday night.

The Public House Grill, 1038 Water St., is the place and Mark Cole, the man behind the now-closed Upstage nightclub, is the presenter of the 8:30 p.m. show. Reserved seats are $30 at 360-385-2216 while a limited number of general admission tickets will be available, space permitting, at the door for $25.

“You won't see a better show,” Cole promised.

Magness, while touring in the wake of her album “Stronger for It,” also promotes a cause that is central to her upbringing: foster children and their care. Originally from Detroit, Magness moved around a lot during her girlhood.

At 16, she lost both of her parents to suicide and was placed in a series of foster homes.

The teenage Magness started to believe that she didn't have a long life ahead of her. People around her died young; she expected the same fate for herself.

So she decided to audition for a singing gig.

“I didn't like the idea of my life going by and never trying,” she said.

Magness got every job she auditioned for, whether she wanted it or not. She went to some tryouts just for the practice and wound up getting a lot of that.

Still, not believing she could make a decent living as a performer, Magness trained to be a recording engineer, to at least be near the making of music.

She landed an internship at a recording studio in St. Paul, Minn., and next thing she knew, one of the studio's artists asked her to sing backup vocals on a record.

That led to a recording contract of her own, and with her sultry sound and beauty to match, Magness has been winning accolades ever since.

She now has nine albums out, and in 2013 she added two Blues Music Awards to her collection: Contemporary Female Blues Artist of the Year — her fourth win in this category — and Song of the Year for “I Won't Cry.”

At the same time, Magness continues to advocate for the Casey Family Programs National Foster Care Month campaign and as an ambassador for Foster Care Alumni of America.

For much more about Magness' music as well as her work for foster children, visit www.JanivaMagness.com.

Last modified: March 06. 2014 6:25PM
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