Last year, Valerie June stunned the music world with her fourth album, Pushin’ Against A Stone. The record–produced in part by Dan Auerbach of the Black Keys–doesn’t fit neatly into any category: it’s blues, it’s country, it’s folk, and soul, and gospel, too. As June told NPR, the synthesis came from growing up around singers in her church and hearing the various ways the human voice could convey emotion, with or without instruments. She also says she was drawn to voices that were “perfectly imperfect,” which (perfectly) describes June’s own way of sounding both sweet and world-weary.
The Tennessee native spent years working any job that would have her, from barista to caretaking. But now that she’s doing music full-time, the work is anything but easy. June recently told KUTX’s Jay Trachtenberg that nowadays the road is her home, and she stopped by our Studio 1A in the midst of a tour with Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings. Her hard work makes her performance of “Workin’ Woman Blues” that much more powerful. On record, the song gallops, but in our Studio 1A, June transforms it into a stripped-down tour-de-force.