The Grammy-nominated, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist from Tennessee, Valerie June has been recording and performing since she was 19 years old, climbing from Memphis coffee houses to national TV performances and getting name-checked by Bob Dylan. Her latest album The Moon and Stars: Prescriptions for Dreamers weaves a tapestry of folk, soul, gospel, country, blues, psychedelia, and symphonic pop, performed by an accomplished lineup of musicians with a dizzying palette of instruments (flute and banjo, mbira and Mellotron, saxophone and synth) absorbed in free-flowing experimentation. The album (co-produced with Jack Splash), is acclaimed by fans and critics alike and received a 2022 Grammy nomination for Best American Roots Song and 2021 Americana Honors and Awards nominations for both Album and Song of the Year. June’s first book, Maps for the Modern World, is a collection of poems and original illustrations, available through Andrews McMeel Universal Publishing. Valerie followed up that book release with her first ever children’s book, Somebody to Love, published by Jack White’s Third Man Books. When she’s not touring, she splits her time between Tennessee and New York.
Why the revolution can be joyful
Valerie June wants to rewrite the narrative. Too often, the only stories being told are those that center violence and systemic racism. Those stories are important, but Valerie June urges creators to claim a better world and redefine what it means to be African-American. In place of loss, write resilience; in place of injustice, write power; in place of sorrow, write joy. She asks of White America: “I see you are willing to tell the story of our suffering, but are you ready to celebrate Black Joy?” And she presents this challenge to Black America: “Take a hold of that joy – it is your superpower.” June believes that a celebration of diversity through choosing a path of radical joy and positive activism is a way to rewrite the narrative of our traumas. It is a way to unite humanity and sculpt a more egalitarian society.