Pin It
Favorite

Working Girl 

Valerie June always knew how to work hard for what she wanted; she just didn't know it would pay off so well

click to enlarge Tennessee-born Valerie June brings her haunting voice to the Bartlett Monday.
  • Tennessee-born Valerie June brings her haunting voice to the Bartlett Monday.

Valerie June has worked her ass off to make it. Not that the self–described "organic moonshine roots" musician is complaining about it.

"My parents taught their children that we had to make our own way in this world, that no one was going to give us anything," says June earlier this week from her home in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, New York.

As a kid growing up in Jackson, Tennessee, she cleaned bricks for her father's construction business. Later, she passed out flyers for his music promotion company. Moving to Memphis days after graduating from high school, she hawked caffeine at competing coffeehouses and worked as a clerk at an herb store called Maggie's Pharm. Meanwhile, she was always singing and writing and teaching herself to play the guitar, which she never had the luxury of learning during her childhood.

"I wanted to get to a place where I could afford to just sit with my guitar and learn," she says in a breathy Southern drawl. For years, she would wait for that day to come.

"One of my biggest challenges is getting over myself. That's why it's so good to be on the road," admits June, who has been touring almost nonstop for two years. "You might say to yourself that you can't perform that day, but you have to do it. I'm constantly reminding myself I'm following my dream."

She says that from a young age, singing always made her "feel good," even when she knew she sounded like no one else.

"Growing up, when people heard me singing, they wondered, 'When can she wrap that up?'" June remembers.

But once she got ahold of some old roots records, she realized there were other women out there who sounded like her, with that nasally, profoundly affected and haunted voice; they were just from the 1920s and '30s.

Now in her early 30s (she wouldn't specify her age, but she was born in 1982), her voice has caught on with enough folks that she was able to raise $15,000 through Kickstarter in 2011. That resulted in her first album as a signed artist, 2013's Pushin' Against a Stone, which Dan Auerbach (Black Keys) and Kevin Augunas (Lumineers, Cold War Kids) co-produced and Auerbach helped write.

Recently, June opened for soul musician Booker T. Jones in Australia.

"His wife told me that every time they're at an airport they tell each other, 'Welcome home, honey,'" June recalls.

As she's been on the road for so long, the joke caused June to contemplate the situation of her own home.

"And then it came to me," she says. "My home is on stage. It took a long time to get there, but now I know it's where I belong." ♦

Valerie June with Jenn Grant • Mon, Aug. 4, 8 pm $10/$12 day of • All-ages • The Bartlett • 228 W. Sprague

Tags:

  • Pin It

Latest in Music

  • To the Point
  • To the Point

    Melvins' Buzz Osborne doesn't care what you think, and he never did
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Ordinary to Extraordinary
  • Ordinary to Extraordinary

    Wimps celebrate the everyday on new punk-filled EP
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • Breaking the cycle
  • Breaking the cycle

    Naomi Punk's music shines through on its own terms
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Summer Camp 2015: Vision Quest

Summer Camp 2015: Vision Quest @ Garland Theater

Thu., Aug. 27

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Laura Johnson

  • To a New Home
  • To a New Home

    These nonprofit organizations want your unwanted stuff
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • To the Point
  • To the Point

    Melvins' Buzz Osborne doesn't care what you think, and he never did
    • Aug 26, 2015
  • More »

Most Commented On

  • Spokane Sounds Like...

    The music we're more likely to listen to than any other city
    • Aug 19, 2015
  • Paternity Leave

    Has Wilco finally moved away from the 'dad rock' label?
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • More »

Top Tags in
Music & Film

Music


Film


Punk


Review


Festival


© 2015 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation