One of the most decorated singers in blues, Janiva Magness wouldn't know how to pull a punch if the song were reeling on the ropes before her. Across her latest album, Stronger for It, she goes twelve rounds with her own material and tunes from songwriters only barely grazed by the blues — Matthew Sweet, Buddy Miller, Shelby Lynne, Gladys Knight — and draws blood every time. The power of her voice — deeply influenced by the gospel moan of Mavis Staples — is inexhaustible. She's a force of nature, as the cliché goes, but when she lets loose on Tom Waits' "Make It Rain," that force becomes supernatural.
Noteworthy: Along with Koko Taylor, Magness is only the second woman to be named the B.B. King Entertainer of the Year by the Memphis-based Blues Foundation.