Whenever searching for new music, I’m typically drawn to the work of singer-songwriters first. Singer-songwriters write, compose and perform their own musical material. Some describe this genre as music from the heart because the lyrics often draw first from personal experiences. The composition of these songs tends to be straightforward and spare so that emphasis remains on the lyrics or the story as I prefer to call it. Usually performances can also be more easily accomplished with little to no instrumentation.
A little more than a year ago, a friend shared the music of singer-songwriter Valerie June with me. At first listen, most might only place June in the folk, country, bluegrass or Appalachian genres, but more attentive ears will easily hear the vibrant hues of gospel, blues, rock and soul. I was and remain mesmerized by her sound, which is anchored by a distinctive southern drawl–a product of her upbringing in Tennessee. Even if I didn’t love June’s sound, her songwriting is special and touches the heart deeply. She’s such a formidable singer-songwriter that she wrote and performed on the track High Note from the legendary Mavis Staples’ 2016 album Livin’ on a High Note.