SPOT­LIGHT on singer-song­writer Valerie June

Meet the Mem­phis mu­si­cian with Me­dusa hair. By Mi­randa Thomp­son

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WHO? Af­ter years of strug­gling, singer-song­writer Valerie June is be­ing hailed as one of the US’s bright­est new tal­ents. WHAT’S THE STORY? Valerie, 35, was born in Jack­son, Ten­nessee, the el­dest of five in a ‘singing fam­ily – ev­ery­body sang around the house, that’s how I got started’ – and wrote her first songs about ‘trees and frogs’. At 18 she moved to Mem­phis with her then hus­band and joined a band as a singer. When the mar­riage ended she went solo, teach­ing her­self to play gui­tar, ukulele and banjo. ‘It took ten years to get enough songs, con­nec­tions and money to make records,’ Valerie says. ‘It has been a chal­lenge – it’s not as if it fell into my lap.’ She re­leased her first al­bum as a signed artist, the gospel-in­flu­enced Pushin’ Against a Stone, in 2013, and her sec­ond, The Order of Time, landed ear­lier this year to se­ri­ous ac­claim – and a per­for­mance on Later… With Jools Hol­land. SONG­BIRD Song­writ­ing is sec­ond na­ture to Valerie, who says she finds in­spi­ra­tion ev­ery­where. ‘Making mu­sic is the eas­i­est part [of the in­dus­try]. Even if I was a bank teller or a gro­cery store worker, I would still have writ­ten songs.’ WHAT’S NEXT? ‘I’m ready to make an­other record.’ But first there are two tours (the US and Europe) to show­case her new al­bum. ‘I love be­ing on stage,’ she says. ‘I soar and dance and can be as play­ful and magic as I want to be.’

Valerie will re­lease UK tour dates later this year; va­

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