Magness is among the premier blues and R&B singers in the world today. Her voice possesses an earthy, raw honesty born from her life experience. A charismatic performer known for her electrifying live shows, Magness is a gutsy and dynamic musical powerhouse. She received the coveted 2009 Blues Music Award for B.B. King Entertainer Of The Year (she is only the second woman to ever win this award, Koko Taylor being the first). She also won Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year, an honor she also received in 2006 and 2007. She has received a total of seventeen Blues Music Award nominations, including one for 2012’s Contemporary Blues Female Artist Of The Year. USA Today declared, “Magness is a blues star,” and The Philadelphia Inquirer said, “Magness sings superbly, with a scorching intensity.”
Magness’ fame has been hard won. Born near Detroit, Magness was inspired by the blues and country she heard listening to 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 age of 16 and lived on the streets, bouncing from one foster home to another. At 17, she became a teenage mother who had to give up her baby daughter for adoption. One night in Minneapolis, an underage Magness sneaked into a club to see blues great Otis Rush, and it was there that she found her salvation and discovered that the blues were her calling. Magness recalls, “Otis played as if his life depended on it. There was a completely desperate, absolute intensity. I knew, whatever it was, I needed more of it.” 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 immersed herself in records by James Brown, Aretha Franklin, Etta James and all the other R&B greats.