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Valerie June

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Memphis, United States (2001 – present)

Valerie June (born Valerie June Hockett in 1982) is an American singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Memphis, Tennessee. She began recording and performing in 2001, initially with her then-husband in the duo Bella Sun. In her solo work her sound encompasses a mixture of folk, blues, gospel, soul, country, Appalachian and bluegrass.

If June had been a roots artist in America 80 years ago, and she often sings as if she was, she might have been a principle influence on today’s myriad retro troubadours, hers a stunningly emotive amalgamation of blues, folk, gospel, soul, Appalachian and bluegrass (including irresistible banjo). She exists, however, today, an artist as modern as an iPod Shuffle, a musician for the generation which carries the entire history of recorded music so casually inside its phone.

Like a potent distillation bubbling on a Prohibition-era porch, Valerie June makes self-styled “organic moonshine roots music”, music for the porch parties of today, a party where she strums her guitar, plucks her banjo, opens her mouth and delta-blues-country stridently sashays out, a stunning peal somewhere between Dolly Parton and Billie Holiday. Or is it more Wanda Jackson and Shirley Goodman, you know, from Shirley & Co, who sang Shame Shame Shame so disco friskily in 1974? Valerie June does this to you: reaches inside your musical brain and shakes it, unleashing ghosts, emotions and memories, all fluttering like countless musical flakes inside the snowglobe of your mind.

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