Tennessee native Valerie June learned to sing by listening closely to all the voices in local Church of Christ congregations — first in a predominantly black church and later in a mostly white church. But it was another voice that sang “Workin’ Woman Blues” to her when the worn-out musician was recovering from a serious illness.
“I just love country blues,” she says, “so I started messing around with the guitar, just sliding and playing. I was like, ‘OK, this feels good.’ Next thing you know, this voice started singing the ‘Workin’ Woman Blues.’ And I said, ‘Well, I can sing that! ‘Cause I been working like a man, too, all right!’ So that’s what we did. I just sat there and played and played until it all started to flow and come out.”
The brutally honest song is a highlight of Pushin’ Against a Stone, her 2013 debut album. Since its release, Valerie June’s striking vocals and sweet disposition have earned her fans all over the world. (Her official video for “Workin’ Woman Blues” was filmed at a small club in Austria.)
Later this fall, she will appear at Afropunk Fest in Brooklyn, New York, as well as the Bumbershoot festival in Seattle. She’s also nominated in the emerging artist category for the 2014 Americana Honors & Awards.
Although she currently lives in New York, Valerie June graciously came to CMT the morning after a Nashville gig to perform the song for us. A hard worker, indeed.
Enjoy the exclusive CMT Edge live performance of “Workin’ Woman Blues.”