OPRAH.COM: Take Note: Valerie June Will Be the Star of Your Fall Playlist

AUGUST 30, 2017 by Valerie June

Her beautifully deep voice might be sexy now, but it didn’t always hold such allure: “As soon as I could talk, I was bellowing at the top of my lungs,” June says. “My parents couldn’t get over how weird I sounded—like an old man when I was just a toddler! But no one was gonna shut me up.” Growing up in Humboldt, Tennessee, June sang gospel at her church three times a week (“no instruments, just voices”). In her early 20s, when her first band broke up, she decided to become a one-woman show—finally picking up the guitar her grandfather had given her several years earlier. Learning was slow: “I was working like a dog as a housekeeper, barista, nanny, cook, so I could save enough money to really sit with my instruments,” June says. “Whenever I had 20 minutes, I would practice a new chord or write a new verse.”

Big Break
At age 25, June hit the road full-time, playing small gigs across the country. After raising nearly $16,000 through Kickstarter, June had enough to make her first studio album. Hoping to collaborate with Black Keys front man Dan Auerbach, she sent him music samples; he loved her funky blues-folk sound and signed on to coproduce the album and help write songs.

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