Janiva Magness Plays a Protest Chord

Tina Lerno, Librarian, Digital Content Team,
album artwork for Janiva Magness and her photo

We are so lucky to kick off our third season of LA Made performances at Central Library this Sunday February 25 with the incomparable Blues Singer, Janiva Magness. Luckier still, her new album drops two days before the performance, so you can get a preview of some of what you might hear in our Taper Auditorium.

Magness’ 14th album, Love Is an Army, due out February 23, is a brilliantly crafted bridge between the past and present; it aims to meld the sounds of Memphis and Nashville together all the while acting as a protest record that pleads for love and understanding. Magness reunited with producer Dave Darling to write and record the new album, which is good because they take on the major issues of the day on Love Is an Army. She and Darling had a real sense of urgency when they were writing and recording this album. “What led the album was the lyrics, and the things that are happening right now; the division, the racism, the violence, and our leaders' lack of concern about basic human issues like health care and poverty."

Magness herself knows from experience about many of those issues; she lost both parents to suicide as a child and was placed in a dozen foster homes. But, inspired by the encouragement of her final foster mother and a galvanizing performance by the legendary bluesman Otis Rush, she found stability and salvation in music, which has always been a part of Janiva’s life.

She says she was performing and even recording before she realized it, with her desire to perform overriding any anxiety and insecurities. She was inspired by the performances of fantastic artists and chasing the incredible feeling she got from that. Eventually, she decided to try singing and people reacted intensely to it. So she figured maybe there was something to that, and she went with it.  

Janiva is excited to be performing at our Central Library. She recalls that the library always felt a bit magical because people all seemed to be in their own worlds and content with that. The quiet made her nervous at first, but she soon realized it was a fantastic escape and that there was so much available for free at the library that it could become a sort of hideaway or fortress from the world. And an endless amount of information and knowledge was there. Lots and lots of different perspectives from many people and cultures, all under one roof.

Welcome Back Janiva!