Valerie June, who tops her glorious mass of hair with crowns of flowers, knows the joy of dancing barefoot under the moon.
A twang from June’s home state of Tennessee accents her music, which is an eclectic mélange of blues, folk, jazz, soul, and gospel. Her country upbringing formed someone happy strumming her acoustic guitar, singing about nature.
June recorded “Home Inside” for National Geographic’s Earth Day Eve 2021 concert on a covered bridge in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. It’s the perfect reminder that nature can be found in the most urban settings. On a sunny spring morning, speaking from Brooklyn, June shared her feelings in this edited conversation.
National Geographic: How do you describe your sound?
Valerie June: As singer-songwriter music, I really am a multi-genre singer-songwriter, and every listener hears something different. There are pop elements on the latest record. Rock and roll. It’s whatever other people want to interpret.
National Geographic: How does nature affect your music?
Valerie June: It is such a big part of my music. With the latest record, I was recording the birdsong from my home in Tennessee and the cicadas coming out and the frogs. Nature to me is the best song. I used to go out and just be in nature all day and hang out by the pond. I think of nature as being very musical.