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Tennessee Time

Bluesy Memphis singer-songwriter Valerie June already has a Black Key in her corner.

"I'm grateful that I was raised around the business side," she says. "A lot of artists don't really have that good a handle on the financial side and the legal stuff and the logistics. Having been raised in that world has made the non-music part easier for me."

June began writing songs to amuse her playmates in kindergarten.

"You've heard of hearing voices," she laughs. "I hear voices all the time, sometimes a lot of voices. That's how most of my songs start.

Valerie June says her new songs were ­inspired by Ray Charles and Porter & Dolly.
Valerie June says her new songs were ­inspired by Ray Charles and Porter & Dolly.

"I'm self-taught, so when I first got serious about writing, I was very curious about what makes a particular song work," June continues. "So I would write out the lyrics of some song that really grabbed me and study it, look at the structure and the rhymes, and just try to figure out what makes that particular song work. That was my college."

"I probably listen to way less music than other musicians," she says. "I don't know if it happens to other writers, but this stuff is just always singing to me inside my head."

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