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First Look Friday: Resiliency Is In The DNA Of Memphis’ Own Valerie June

Photo of Valerie June taken by Danny Clinch.

If you haven’t heard the love-lorn, soulful, rich, powerfully beautiful, country twang-induced, rurally recognizable voice of this week’s First Look Friday subject then can you really call yourself an audiophile?

Fresh from Humboldt, Tennessee, Valerie June is a product of her environment + embodies pure strength, resiliency and confidence that makes her brand of “organic moonshine roots music” sound like home cooking to one’s ears.  Mixing different elements and genres like a down home jumbalaya, Valerie loves these sounds and her voice—and blend of spice, sugar and vinegar—makes her familiar and distinctive at the same damn time.

First appearing on the music industry’s radar, Val was on the MTV series, $5 Cover, on an episode covering the modern music scene in Memphis back in 2009. She then released her collaborative EP with Old Crow Medicine Show, title Valerie June and the Tennessee Express, that led to her popping all over town. A medical setback forced her to reassess things in her life, yet she was able to fight against the odds thanks to her strong willed family.

The result of showing such grit + determination was Pushin’ Against a Stone, which was released in 2013 and feature Memphis legend Booker T. Jones. Since then, she has been bubbling on high, being on everyone’s lips and making it harder and harder to ignore her honest, homespun authenticity. With The Order of Time readying to hit shelves and digital marketplaces on March 10 (please press play on “With You,” below), we are ecstatic to introduce the Okayplayer audience to Valerie June, a true star in the making.

A moving, ethereal person with the voice reminiscent of Billie Holliday, we chat it up with Valerie June about her musical influences, how a little thing like diabetes couldn’t stop her shine + why working with Bjork would be cool.

Okayplayer: To music snobs the world over, you are making an impact. What is it that those in music game are seeing and hearing that the rest of the world has yet to discover?

Valerie June: I can’t speak for them.

OKP: For those who have a passion for music, they honed their skills and practiced their craft. Who are your most cherished influences in music and why?

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is the managing editor of Okayplayer. His top three MCs are: 1) Andre 3000, 2) Scarface, and 3) Black Thought. Debate him on Twitter @KevitoClark.

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