VALERIE JUNE (1982 - )
If you took the traditional Appalachian approach of The Carolina Chocolate Drops, added a pinch of Erykah Badu, a smidge of Dolly Parton and a dollop of Billie Holiday, you have created the perfect recipe for a serving of Valerie June. Her Medusa dreadlocks now rest in the hipster enclave of Brooklyn, New York but it all began in Western Tennessee in the City of Jackson, the home of blues belter Big Maybelle and where she still answered to Valerie June Hockett when called.
MUSIC ::: BLUES ::: FOLK ::: GOSPEL :::
We first came across her shortly following her 2014 Newport Folk Festival appearance when photographer Lance Salemo posted live shots of her performance. It was love at first sight. To hear that her musical talents equaled her natural beauty was one of those eureka moments.
She married young and at the tender age of 19, she released her first studio effort as the husband/wife act, Bella Sun. The songwriting is somewhat pedestrian but you hear the unique warbly twang in its infancy.
After going solo in all aspects of her life, she busked her way along the Left Coast honing her craft all the while expanding her skill set as a multi-instrumentalist.
During that run she released two albums on her own, The Way of the Weeping Willow (2006) and Mountain of Rose Quartz (2008).
Eventually, Valerie returned to Tennessee but this time settling in Memphis where her career made a storybook run - a true case of her being at the right place at the right time. She spent 2009 like any great musician, working as a waitress and one of her regulars happened to be a MTV producer who landed her a perfomance on the $5 Cover television series where she debuted her ode to the female commando lifestyle, No Draws Blues to a national viewing audience.
A 2010 collaboration with Ketch Secor of Old Crow Medicine Show (Wagon Wheel) as Valerie June and the Tennessee Expres evolved into work with the 2013 breakthrough Pushin' Against a Stone produced by Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys which she financed via a Kickstarter campaign. It contained both outstanding cuts Workin' Woman Blues and You Can't Be Told.
She toured and shared the stage with such diverse acts as Jake Bugg, Sharon Jones & The Dap Kings, Sturgill Simpson and The Rolling Stones and landed a spot at major international festivals and television appearances.
After obsessing over her for the past two years we now feel jealous that we have to share her with everybody else. Her self-proclaimed organic moonshine roots music has now evolved into a slightly more calculated pop vision and she is now poised to step into the spotlight with her March 2017 release, The Order of Time.