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The Blues Redemption Of Janiva Magness

Born in Detroit, R&B and blues singer Janiva Magness grew up on Motown soul music. But by the time she was 16, she had experienced more sadness than most do in a lifetime.

After losing both parents to suicide, Magness lived on the streets and in foster homes, bouncing around from city to city. But one winter night in Minneapolis, she hitchhiked across town to see bluesman Otis Rush perform.

"There was something that happened to me that night," Magness says. "Otis ... is such a vibrant musical force. Everything he played [was] with such complete commitment — you know, no half-steppin' anything. And I knew when I left that club that morning in the wee hours that whatever it was that happened to me that night, I had to have more of that experience."

Music became her outlet, and Magness emerged as a powerful performer. Now in her 50s, she's just come out with her seventh R&B album. She spoke to Linda Wertheimer about the life story behind What Love Will Do.

"It's amazing for me to have come as far as I have and have the opportunity that I have today," she says. "This is what I do for a living, singing songs. What a great gig."

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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