Anyone who has ever heard her sing can immediately sense Janiva Magness’ strength, resilience and heart. One of the top blues vocalists of her generation and only the second woman (after blues legend Koko Taylor), to win the Blues Music Awards’ coveted B.B. King Entertainer of the Year award, Magness now interpretats half a dozen classics from the blues canon and beyond, including numbers made famous by Bo Diddley, Freddie King, Etta James, and Nina Simone. Blue Again is released on May 12, 2017 on Blue Élan/Fathead Records.
Magness faced the daunting task of living up to one of every blues singer’s idols, Etta James. A duet with Harvey Fuqua, “If I Can’t Have You,” is one of the Chess Records great’s best-known songs and likely the most recognizable on Blue Again. For her rendition, Magness recruited the fast-rising blues singer Rayford, whom she first met when she was a judge and he was an unknown contestant at the Blues Foundation’s International Blues Challenge.
The vocalist told Elmore: “This is one of my all time fave Etta James tracks. On the original it was Etta and Harvey Fuqua. The two of them combined really put a special “thing” on the song. I have carried this song for a very long time hoping to record it so when I brought it to the table as potential track for Blue Again and Dave heard it – it was an immediate thumbs up! Great track, killer groove and fun to play and sing to boot! I was stoked!
“I first heard Sugaray several years back, when I was serving as a Judge for the Blues Foundation in the sem-finals of the International Blues Competition in Memphis . I knew from the moment he began to sing that what he brought was VERY special, in his voice, stage presence and performance. I mean the whole package. These days, for an artist to encompass all three superior strengths is rare indeed! So when I was thinking of people to ask on board for this song I knew it had to be Sugaray Rayford. He proved all that to be true in the studio. I am very pleased with how the track came out and suspect the listeners will be too! Hope you enjoy!”