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Valerie June On Tina Turner

Valerie June (photo by Renata Raksha, PR)

Valerie June (photo by Renata Raksha, PR)



In honor of Black History Month 2021, WFUV has invited Black artists we admire to talk about the music they love — which influenced their own songwriting — in our "Album ReCue" series.

This week I spoke with singer and songwriter Valerie June about Tina Turner's 1974 solo debut, Tina Turns the Country On!. An album of country songs might seem like a bit of a left turn for someone who is so well known for her electrifying soul style, but it was actually quite natural for her.

Tina grew up listening to country music in the rural Tennessee town of Nutbush, and Valerie did the same in Humboldt, a town that was thirty minutes away. Drawing parallels between their paths, Valerie explained that "both towns are poor towns."

"It's hard to think that you could come out of Humboldt and have traveled the entire planet playing music as I have," Valerie continues. "Tina doesn't even live in the States anymore, so in every way, I'm inspired by her, from this record to the way she lives her life."

Although Tina Turns the Country On! wasn't as commercially successful as some of Turner's other releases, it did earn her a Grammy nomination. Curiously, the nomination was in the R&B category rather than the country category, where it really belonged.

Always hopeful, Valerie suggests that "it might be easier for people coming up to be in the placement of where their music really is fitting, despite the color of their skin."

Tina Turns the Country On! is an outstanding album by an extraordinary artist — and it's surprising that it's not available digitally or on CD yet. Valerie says that listening to the record is like "watching the transformation of a multi-genre artist."

Hear my full conversation with Valerie June in the player above and listen to highlights from our talk, plus songs from Tina Turns the Country On!, throughout the week on 90.7, streaming online. Valerie releases her new album, The Moon & Stars: Prescriptions for Dreams, on March 12 via Fantasy Records.