ARLINGTON — Music saved Janiva Magness.
The Los Angeles-based singer, now 62, grew up in a dozen foster homes after her parents died by suicide.
“That fact is accurate, but the truth is that the struggles of my life don’t define me,” Magness said in a phone interview last week. “And that is glorious.”
Magness, who sings what is perhaps best described as American roots music — including the blues — is scheduled to perform Saturday evening at Byrnes Performing Arts Center in Arlington as part of the Arlington Arts Council’s seventh annual Legends of the Blues concert.
Also on the program is Stacy Jones of Edmonds and an all-women band she pulled together under the name Northwest All-Star Blues Broads.
Magness is excited to hear the Blues Broads, she said, as well as perform songs from her latest album, her 15th, “Change in the Weather: Janiva Magness Sings John Fogerty.”
The singer credits her interest in music to encouragement from her final foster mom and inspiration from bluesman Otis Rush. Today her impressive 40-year career keeps her touring regularly.
“Music has always spoken to a place in me where there are no words,” Magness said. “It is more than a vocation; it has been my salvation, my life raft and comfort. I am very blessed by my relationship to music.”
When Magness started singing, genre mattered less than the quality of the craft, she said.
“I am old enough to have been brought up on a variety of musical influences,” she said. “I speak my truth through song, and the blues cuts right down the middle of that. I don’t wish to be bound by categories set up by the recording industry.”
Americana is the largest musical genre in our country now, Magness said.
“And that’s because it’s inclusive,” she said. Americana includes the blues, rhythm and blues, soul, folk, country, bluegrass, and sometimes rock ‘n’roll and jazz.
Magness appreciates that she is referred to as a legend in advertising for the concert on Saturday.
“There is great honor in that,” said the Grammy Award-nominated performer. Over the years, Magness also has won numerous blues awards, including having been one of only two women to receive the BB King Performer of the Year award.
On her new album, Magness creates a new soulful sound with 12 songs from the Creedence Clearwater Revival leader’s catalog.
“Fogerty is a brilliant writer, politically astute and quite outspoken, and am grateful to be able to cover these songs,” she said. “Standing against the tide is very much a part of who I am. The biggest challenge was to whittle it down from about 50 favorites to a dozen for the album.
“The ones I picked are part of the soundtrack of my life.”
Along with Stacy Jones, the Blues Broads include Sheri Roberts Greimes, Lisa Mann, Sonny Hess, Faith Stankevich and Sheryl Shields Clark.
Jones has earned many Washington Blues Society awards for her singing, harmonica playing, songwriting and work with the Stacy Jones Band. Mann, a bassist, and Cascade Blues Association Hall of Fame member, also sings. On guitar, Hess is another award-winner, who has opened for Etta James and many others. Washington Blues Society award-winner Greimes is the pianist and a vocal powerhouse. Drummer Stankevich, grew up tap dancing to Muddy Waters tunes and has toured the world.
Clark is a middle school music teacher and award-winning saxophonist, who can’t wait to retire from teaching to become a full-time musician like her friends. Clark has played for the likes of Tony Bennett, Dave Brubeck and Dianne Schurr.
“This is going to be a really cool gig,” Clark said of the Arlington concert. “I encourage all music students to attend, especially girls.”
If you go
Legends of the Blues VII, featuring Janiva Magness, 7:30 p.m. Nov. 23, Byrnes Performing Arts Center at Arlington High School, 18821 Crown Ridge Blvd. Tickets are $20 via Brown Paper Tickets or at Flowers by George, 335 N. Olympic Ave., Arlington. Also available for $25 at the door. Children younger than 12 enter for free. Doors open at 6 p.m.
Also, Magness plans to read from her memoir — “Weeds Like Us” — at 6 p.m. Nov. 24, Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way NE, Lake Forest Park.
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