Bella Sun
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Bella Sun

Band R&B Funk


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The best kept secret in music


"Bella Sun CD Release"

Bella Sun: release CD

Just a few years ago, Valerie Hockett was a Humboldt High schooler admiring the musical talent of her art teacher.

Today she is an up and coming artist of her own. Together with her husband, Valerie and Michael Joyner are Bella Sun.

Bella Sun released their first CD in November 2004 and sales of No Crystal Stair are going surprising well, Valerie says. One Memphis outlet actually sold out, she added.

Next month, February 5th, the couple will play at T.J. Mulligan's on University Parkway in Jackson. The hometown girl is hopeful the local folks who know her will want to hear the show. Val is the daughter of Kaye and Emerson Hockett of Humboldt. She has two sisters, Kayla and Jasmine, and two brothers, Jason and Patrick.

Bella Sun's music is not what most people expect when they see the dreadlocked couple's promotional photos. The Joyners may look reggae but their sound is a jazzy, folksy melodious blend. No Crystal Stair has been compared to Joni Mitchell meets Tracy Chapman. Valerie is a soulful songbird, according to critics.

Since March 2000, the couple has been in Memphis, drawing crowds to coffee shops and clubs with thought provoking lyrics and funky acoustic guitar licks.

Michael Joyner was born in Finger but moved to Jackson when he was young. He graduated from Jackson Central Merry while Valerie graduated from Humboldt High School.

Their love of music came early for both of them. Singing was Valerie's childhood dream, she said. Because of her father's work in promotions, she was exposed to people in the music industry as a young child. She also recalls listening to folk and country music with her babysitter, and credits the sitter for her love of the folksy sound.

There were many influences, she says, but one of the great ones she recalls is HHS art teacher Scott Myatt. When he sang the Eagles' Desperado or James Taylor tunes for the class, Valerie could not get enough, she recalls. "I loved listening to him."

Michael had been playing piano as a child but in the 8th grade found a guitar with one string at his parents' house. He picked it up and began playing. It wasn't long before his parents knew this boy needed a real guitar. His playing has been compared to Hendrix and Richie Havens.

The couple met through friends who thought they might like one another. When Valerie saw Michael, she recognized him from seeing him five months earlier at a beauty shop in Humboldt. "I thought I knew him that very first time I saw him." And when Michael came away from their first meeting, he thought, "I'm going to marry that girl."

They wanted an untraditional wedding, so they backpacked Europe and married in Italy, which is no small feat, Valerie says. "It took tons of paperwork," she recalls.

But work doesn't phase this couple as they continue their quest. Their dream has included cleaning jobs by day and putting more than half their earnings into their music. Now their first CD may be the beginning of their dream un-deferred. Maybe as Val sings in Candles Burning, it's time to "Step up to your dream."

On their first album, most of the vocals and the words are Valerie's while most of the music is Michael's but the two mix it up sometimes. She admits her themes are usually the "peace, love and all that hippie stuff because there's just way too much of the other going on."

Anyone wanting a copy of the CD, No Crystal Stair, can buy it at CD Warehouse in Jackson or go online to and search for Bella Sun. Another CD, a solo by Valerie, with songs and acoustic guitar, will be recorded and released soon. - The Humboldt Chronicle

"Collected Sounds"

a Review by Amy Lotsberg Producer of Collected Sounds

Gosh I don't even know how to describe this music. Is it rock? Is it funk? Jazz? Blues? Pop? I dunno. I guess it's a little of each. Which is good.

Memphis based, husband and wife, Mike and Val Joyner make up Bella Sun. Val sings, Mike plays guitar and they both write the music.

Val's voice is quite funky. It has a solid clear strong emotional quality that fits the music very nicely. Mike is a skilled guitarist.

The songwriting is somewhere in the classic-rock classic folk vibe. Nice melodies, catchy and timeless.

This is a fine recording from a talented duo.

Note: a word on packaging. I’m not saying if you order this CD it will come like this, but my copy came in a folder that was made out of handmade paper and sewn together. Very cool.

Posted on February 21, 2005 - Amy Lotsberg

"A poetic masterpiece with an unforgettable sound"

A poetic materpiece with an unforgettable sound
Reviewer: J. M. Simpson
This album was very dynamic. It has a little bit of funk with a whole lot of folk & soul. I especially enjoyed the heartfelt ballads. This artist definitely knows how to tap into human emotion. The lyrics were breathtaking and insightful. This album is a must have.

- J. M. Simpson

"As we sit, cups in hand, nice weather, good books discussed"

"...Daniel said, "It's interesting to see the different groups that come and go here. And in addition to new faces within the poetry group songwriter/guitarists, like Valerie Joyner of Bella Sun and Andy Diggs, have been adding their musical talent to the readings." - The Commercial Appeal




Bella Sun EP 2002
No Crystal Stair LP 2004
Can't Tell No Lies (single) - Rotation on xm unsigned radio


Feeling a bit camera shy


At first sight, people automatically think reggae music, but the fusion of classic funk and soulful folk unite to create the soothing sounds of Bella Sun. Since March of 2000, the husband-wife duo has been filling coffee shops and bars with thought provoking lyrics and funky acoustic guitar licks.

Mike and Val Joyner were both born and raised in Jackson, TN, but the musical influences that led them to their own musical paths were different. Singer-songwriter, Valerie Joyner’s earliest memory of singing was riding down the road in her father’s old dump truck, and bellowing along to “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman. After she talked her grandfather out of his old acoustic guitar, she learned a few chords and started writing her own songs. Her voice has been compared to Billie Holiday, Janis Joplin, Stevie Nicks, and Mavis Staples. Her lyrics powerfully embrace spirituality and inspire social consciousness.

Guitarist, Michael Joyner has been playing guitar since his early teens. His first guitar was also a hand-me down from his grandfather. And it only had only one string. His parents overheard him playing and knew they had to buy their son strings. He began teaching himself chords, and dedicated himself to understanding and hearing the mechanics behind music such as Jimi Hendrix, Nirvana, and Fela Kuti.

Bella Sun lives in Memphis, Tennessee, where they have been changing the music scene for the past 3 years. They are regulars at the local venues, and have also been featured guest on local radio and news shows.