Primary Instrument: Vocalist
When the musical landscape shifted and the ride ended, Valerie and her husband John bought a house in Portland, Oregon and had a son, Malcolm.
Eventually, Valerie was drawn back into music through teaching voice and lending her talents to other artists’ recording sessions. “It felt good not to be married to a particular style of music anymore. I got to play the field musically.”
She became an in-demand singer and session player, and has performed or recorded with artists ranging from the Oregon Symphony Pops to pianist Michael Allen Harrison, celebrated jazz songwriter/pianist David Frishberg, African drummer Obo Addy and many others. She has appeared, as a vocalist and percussionist, on regional and national radio and television commercials for clients such as Nike, Hewlett-Packard and Fred Meyer.
In the late 90’s, Valerie began performing as one of the featured singers in the Woody Hite Big Band, an award winning group whose roots in the Portland area go back to the 1930’s, when the Big Band sound began to emerge. Backed by key players from the Hite band, whom she dubbed “The Knights of Swing,” and with husband John contributing arrangements, Valerie went into the recording studio and produced “Beginning to See the Light.”
In 2005, Valerie released a recording of duets with pianist Tom Grant, one of the West Coast’s best-known jazz musicians. “Side By Side” is a collection of vocal/piano duets that explores a wide range, from Tin Pan Alley favorites like “Side By Side,” to modern standards such as “Up On The Roof” and “Charade.”
Artists for the Arts
In addition to her music career, Valerie is one of the founders of Artists for the Arts, a non-profit organization dedicated to raising awareness and funds for arts education in local schools. As an artist who was fortunate to grow up in a supportive household, during a time when arts education received far more emphasis than it does today, this project is very close to her heart. Valerie understands how important it is that every child has a chance to explore his or her own unique means of self-expression. The proceeds from the Beginning To See the Light CD benefit the organization; and Valerie has been closely involved in a number of other fundraising and outreach efforts.