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Blues singer still has warm spot in her heart for Detroit

of the Oakland Press

Posted: Thursday, April 21, 2011

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Detroit could be something of a dark place for blues artists Janiva Magness.

Though born and raised in the metro area, mostly Mount Clemens, it's also where both of her parents committed suicide by the time she was 16, and where she lived in the streets and in foster homes and gave up a baby daughter she had at 17 for adoption. Yet, Magness says, "I love to come to Michigan to play, and I love to be back in the Detroit area.

"There's not really any family for me to visit there," adds Magness, who's a national spokesperson for the Casey Family Programs promoting National Foster Care Month. "Anybody who was there was in the group. But when there's time -- and I don't mean to sound bleak -- I go to the graveyard and take some flowers and brush some things off. But, yeah, there's a special place in me for Detroit, certainly."

Magness, meanwhile, has managed to craft a special career from her hard life, including accolades for her 2010 album "The Devil is an Angel Too." She's in "the dubious state called pre-production" for her next album and is road-testing some of her new songs, but Magness is still actively engaged in pushing "The Devil...," too, and enjoying its continuing growth.

"It's wearing really well," notes Magness, who covered songs by Marvin Gaye, Ann Peebles, Joe Tex, Nina Simone and Julie Miller on the set. "It's been really well-received, and people seem to really dig it, which is very nice. I mean, it debuted at No. 1 on iTunes, which means a bunch of people ordered it in advance, and that's really cool.

"And something I've noticed of late, which is really fun for me, is that people recognize all the tunes and they're sort of singing along. I watch them mouth the words, and that is a really nice experience for me. This is the first time I've had that, so I'm really enjoying it."

Janiva Magness performs Thursday, April 21, at Callahan's Music Hall, 2105 South Blvd., Auburn Hills. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets are $14 in advance, $17.50 at the Door. Call 248-858-8508 or visit www.atcallahans.com.

Web Site: www.atcallahans.com

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