” Studying to become an engineer, she worked in a recording studio in Saint Paul, Minnesota, when she was coerced into doing some backing singing. Her work, which included backing Kid Ramosand R. L. Burnside, led her to Phoenix, Arizona and in forming her own band, the Mojomatics. They enjoyed local success before Magness relocated in 1986 to Los Angeles. Her first album More Than Live was released in 1991, her second release titled It Takes One to Know One, was released in 1997. In 1999, Magness starred in a stage production of It Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues, at the David Geffen Theater in Westwood, Los Angeles.
In 2008, Magness signed with Alligator Records releasing What Love Will Do. The Chicago Sun-Times stated, “Her songs run the gamut of emotions from sorrow to joy. A master of the lowdown blues who is equally at ease surrounded by funk or soul sounds, Magness invigorates every song with a brutal honesty.” She toured widely in Canada, Europe and across the United States.
The Devil Is an Angel Too, appeared in 2010, and Stronger for It in 2012. The latter included some of her own songs, the first album to do so since her debut effort in 1997.
In 2013, Magness was nominated in five categories for more Blues Music Awards (BMA). In 2014, Magness left Alligator Records re-launching her own label, Fathead Records, and released Original, saying, “I’ve had an entire career up to this point of being an interpreter of other people’s songs. And I’ve been fine with that. But it became necessary to change that thinking. This record is titled Original because its eleven original tracks. I’m co-writer on seven of the eleven tracks.”
Magness won her seventh BMA, the ‘Contemporary Blues Female Artist’ category, at the 2015 Blues Music Awards ceremony. In 2016, she signed to Blue Elan Records which is also the home to Jack Tempchin, Gerry Buckley, and Rusty Baker. Her most recent release was 2016’s, Love Wins Again. The album debuted at number 5 on the Billboard Blues Chart, number 2 on iTunes Blues, reached number 1 on the Blues radio chart, and spent two months on the Americana radio chart. In late 2016, she performed at the Americana Music Conference and Festival in Nashville, to further cement her cross-over into the genre.
Magness’s 13th studio album Love Wins Again charted on the Billboard Heatseekers Top 25, Billboard Blues Chart in the Top 5, Living Blues Radio at #2, and earned her first Grammy Award nomination.