Born Valerie June Hockett, the Tennesee native said her sound combines such genres as gospel, country, folk, bluegrass and the blues. On her new album Pushin' Against a Stone, June is making a name for herself with music fans around the world. The album, her fourth, was inspired by her struggles to make it in life.
She says "Some days it’s a good thing to have, like a best friend, and sometimes it’s your worst enemy. In the case of this record, I had so many friends helping me move the stone.” Those friends include such legendary producers as Dan Auerbach and fellow musicians like Booker T. Jones.
NaturallyCurly caught up with June during her recent trip through Austin for ACL Fest. We talked to her about her music, and of course her trademark hair.
NC: How did you come up with "organic moonshine roots music" to describe your music?
June: It’s a whimsical name for my music. I want people to come in with a question in their mind. I want them to say ‘What is that?’ Then when you come in, they can be open to what I do. It's the way to keep their mind open.
NC: It sounds like it's been a busy year for you. I just heard an interview with on NPR and read an article about you in the New York Times Magazine.
June: It has been a busy year. I’ve been in Europe most of the year, and at home for five weeks - five minutes here, two minutes there. A lot has changed in that sense. I'm on the road all the time. It’s all good. I work hard to play hard, I guess.
NC: How do people react when you first started performing? With your dreadlocks, do they expect the voice they hear?
June: When people see me, they have a misconception of who I am. I do it all the time myself. It’s just human. Even when I walk down the street. A lot of brothers will look at me and say "rasta." (On stage), I can't really see their reaction because I usually sing with my eyes closed. I get into the moment and let it go and don't even think about that.
NC: So let's talk about your hair. Tell us about your dreads.
June: I did my hair this way because I don’t want to spend a lot of time on my hair, and I don't want to use a lot of things on my hair. I used to perm my hair every two weeks=. I burned my scalp off. I would spend hours on my hair. I was ready to do something where I could just wake up and go. I decided to get dreads. I just wanted an easy lifestyle.
NC: How do you care for your dreads?
June: When I’m on the road, I wash it very little. I usually wash it when I have a day off and I'm going to be in the hotel. I love to use Pantene Truly Natural Shampoo. I've tried a lot of shampoos and this is the best. Other shampoos make my hair sticky and rough. I also use basic oils on my scalp. I'll pick up some coconut or olive oil, drench my hair before I wash it and let it sit there. When I wash out the oil, it leaves in enough that it's not greasy but it’s still moisturized.
Photos Courtesy Of Instagram