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Valerie June: Not like the rest

Valerie June live


Valerie June opened the show for Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings last night, Mar 20, 2014, at the Rialto Theatre in Tucson, AZ. Valerie’s recent album, "Pushin’ Against a Stone,” reveals that Valerie June is a force to be reckoned with.

Valerie June charms the sold out crowd at the Rialto Theatre.
©Mary F. Andrews

She is a self-taught musician, singer and songwriter from Humboldt, Tennessee who learned to sing in the churches of the Deep South. The predominant music heard in that area of the country is country and blues music. Her music is difficult to label in just a word or two. It is organic, Appalachian roots music, but Valerie June is much more than that. For more of Valerie June’s background information, click here.

Last night, her physical presence was much like Erykah Badu and it was easy to imagine her on the cover of Vogue or Glamour magazines. She is beautiful with heavy dreadlocks piled on top of her head that appeared to be chiseled out of stone. The back of her hair was adorned with a long sprig of rosemary that she picked earlier in the day. Her voice and her vocal style were like no one else. The sound of her authentic voice captured the audience’s undivided attention immediately.

Valerie started her set solo with her amplified acoustic guitar singing “Rolling and Tumbling.” She alternated between the guitar, banjo and ukulele and was accompanied by a three-piece band. "Workin' Woman Blues" characterized her ability to interpret the spirit of the music she sings. The set was a sparse 30 minutes. She was gone far too soon. Click here for the set list.

It is ironic that this unique artist has toured and achieved more recognition in Europe than in her homeland. This needs to be changed and this tour with Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings is the first step.