By Sid Peterson
Valerie June grew up in vibrant Memphis, Tennessee, a city historically known for its influential and diverse music scene. With this Southern influence, June’s sound has evolved, and it reaches across many genres. Her special voice sings soulfully, has a rich bluesy feel, and occasionally crosses over to a more traditional folk sound.
In 2014, June played at the Englert as an opener for Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings. Englert events director Jess Egli noted, “Often, we like to see people evolve in their careers and then invite them back as headlining acts.”
Four years have passed, and June has undoubtedly grown and gained more popularity in the music world. In 2013, her album *Pushin’ Against a Stone* was produced by Dan Auerbach of the alternative group the Black Keys, and her audience began to expand. Flash forward to 2017, and *Rolling Stone* listed her newest album, *The Order of Time*, as 24th of the 50 best albums in 2017.
Englert marketing director Aly High believes the crowd will be diverse at June’s concert. Concert-goers may attend the show to witness June’s “amazing songwriting chops [or] as fans of her soul and singular voice.”
Other people, High said, “might have encountered her music on NPR or in a coffee shop and want to come hear their favorite song live.”
University of Iowa sophomore Madalyn Whitaker, has listened to June for several years, and she is excited to attend the upcoming show with her father. Their shared love for the blues led them to discover June, and now they both consider her to be one of their favorite artists.
Whitaker enjoys listening to June’s music because it has a “really heavy blues voice and influence.” One of her personal favorite songs is June’s cover of the classic tune “Rollin’ and Tumblin’,” which has been covered by many famous blues musicians, particularly Muddy Waters.
As for her original work, Whitaker noted that in a few songs, June supported her feminist beliefs.
“I really like her lyrics,” Whitaker said. “They are very heavy on feminist and women strength. She seems to be a strong activist, which I think is cool.”
The opportunity to hear June’s distinct voice in person excites Whitaker the most. Live music has a special way of connecting the audience member to the performer. Because the Englert is a smaller venue, the concerts are more personal to fans.
As a solo artist, only June’s authentic, singular voice will be presented to audience members. The focus will be entirely on her.
These days, High said, “In the age of Autotune, and Dubstep, and really over-produced vocals, I think it’s refreshing to hear something that feels real.”