Janiva Magness

Janiva Magness
Do I Move You?

NorthernBlues 33

By Art Tipaldi
July 2006

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One of the biggest upsets at this year’s Blues Music Awards was Janiva Magness winning the Contemporary Blues Female Artist of the Year Award over Shemekia Copeland. Copeland, a five-time winner, rushed to Janiva backstage and enthusiastically congratulated her. For Magness, the award comes as validation of a life-long career in the blues music business.

While she has been a name in the West Coast blues scene for more than 30 years, Magness has only been nominated for the prestigious blues awards since 2004. Today, she is finally beginning to reach music fans around the world, signing with NorthernBlues, a major blues label, and getting a new booking agent.

Do I Move You? is her second album for the label, and seventh overall. Once NorthernBlues recruited Canadian blues star Colin Linden to produce, this record was destined for success. One of Magness’ strengths is to assemble the best musicians she can. Here, Linden, Rick Holmstrom, and Magness’ husband, Jeff Turmes, play guitars; Stephen Hodges handles the drums and percussion, Richard Bell, from the Band, and Janis Joplin records, plays keyboards; and Turmes leads the West Coast horn section.

Magness opens with a soulful “I’m Just a Prisoner.” As she whispers her weakness in this love predicament, Holmstrom adds his shivery guitar tones to punctuate the heartache. Immediately, this is a voice to be reckoned with. Magness’ years of honing her craft has aged like a fine Bordeaux, and the proof is her gorgeous delivery of Delbert McClinton’s “You Were Never Mine.” Linden and Bell gently back Magness’ delicate vulnerability. Her sad farewell message is from the Stax dark end of the street.

Turmes’ guitars and horns on “I Can’t Stop Crying” give Magness a 1950s R&B feel. She is a singer who can deliver the goods no matter what style or approach is called for.

On “Don’t Let Your memories,” Magness, Turmes, and Linden sit alone to deliver a back porch acoustic goodbye to her Memphis- bound lover. “I Want You to Have Everything” is reminiscent of soul music played by Sam Cooke and others. On Nina Simone’s “Do I Move You?” Magness purrs low-light sexy blues. There’s her funky side on “Bad Blood,” and her rootsy, Memphis jug band approach on “Stealin’ Sugar.”

She closes out the record with Denise LaSalle’s man-sized “A Man Sized Job.” Magness’ convincing voice is enough to move her lazy man outta the way for the new kid in her bed.

Incidentally, Janiva’s new guitarist is our own Matthew Stubbs, and she will be making her New England debut on July 27 at Chan’s in Woonsocket, R.I. Don’t miss her.



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