Tasha Valentine
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Tasha Valentine

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Soulful but sublime live interpretations highlight Valentine’s vocal dexterity


It was a Wednesday night in early August and I was on my way to East Nashville. This may not seem like much to you, but being a confirmed non-driver I rarely leave the West End/Sylvan Park area of Music City. A trip to the East Side of the Cumberland River was a special occasion indeed. The occasion in question was the CD release party for the immensely talented local vocalist Tasha Valentine.
I first saw Tasha perform in a hole-in-the-wall dive bar on Nolensville Road where a good friend of mine dragged me (Nolensville Road is yet another place in Nashville I almost never have occasion to visit) to see her perform. Despite my doubts as to the dubious nature of the venue, I soon found myself entranced by the barefoot goddess that took the stage. She soon proceeded to tear a blue streak through a number of songs from Billie Holiday to Bill Withers without breaking a sweat. Then, with the spotlight full on her the stage siren closed the show with her signature “Slow Rollin’ Tears”. Suddenly, I felt like a heroin addict coming down. I needed more! Alas! There were no recordings to be found except a Nashville Star compilation from the first season which featured the curvaceous crooner on a single track.
Finally, two years hence Tasha Valentine was releasing her first album and I would be damned if I was going to miss it! When I arrived at the 5 Spot, the room is packed with people pouring in by the minute.
By the end of the night I and everyone else there have been treated with nothing less that an incredible performance by Valentine and her girlfriend and opening act folk-rocker Steph Callahan (who will be releasing her own new album in January). Besides that, I can now get my Tasha Valentine fix any time I want!
Live. Less Ordinary is a pure joy to listen to. Recorded live, it is certainly a bright addition to my ipod top 10.
- By: F. Daniel Kent (Out and About Nashville)


Tasha Valentine






Tasha Valentine was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, moved to Texas when she was about five years old, relocated to New Mexico when she was in the 6th grade, and the day after she turned 18, left for L.A. “(I) couldn’t get out of my hometown fast enough. I’ve been all over the Southwest since then, and have been settled in Nashville for almost five years.”

Maybe it’s the influences of all those moves to all those places which contribute to her description of her music. When asked to talk about where she falls, in terms of genres, Valentine responds: “Hmmm. This is the hardest question ever. It never becomes any easier to answer. I am a direct result of my influences. I guess its sort of … bluegrass infused gospel blues. Make sense? Ha!” Making sense isn’t exactly the goal, of course. What Valentine is intent on making is her own music.

Toward that end, she identifies a few major musical influences. “Patsy Cline for sure. I remember listening to her as a kid and thinking ‘this lady must have a really hard life, she always seems so sad.’ No matter what the tempo or style of song she sang, there was always this dark sincerity. There’s nobody else like her.’”

Another “big one” is Ray Charles. “Everything about him makes me smile. His music is timeless. I was lucky to meet Ray before he died. Still full of piss and vinegar and as amazing as ever.”

Stevie Wonder is a third artist who, “has made such a deep impression on me. I can’t figure out what it is I love about him so much. He just has this great range. I’ve not heard anyone else sing simple words like he does.”

Whatever the various influences along the way, from early on she knew music was essential. “Oh lord! I’ve always known exactly what my path is. I was a terrible singer when I was a kid. I just wanted it so bad! I started mimicking my favorite artists. The earliest form of karaoke. I think that did the trick.”

Since those early beginnings many songs have been sung in many venues. When asked about places she especially likes to play, Valentine responds, “I love dives. If it’s smoky, loud and smelly, it’s right up my alley.” In fact, she just completed her live record, “Live. Less Ordinary.” At this point, she’s traveling a lot. “Doing live shows is what I’m about right now.” She adds, however, “I plan to start working on a new record very soon.”

A big part of what Valentine talks about is her band, which has been together for several years. Rich Gilbert (guitar), is from Frank Black and the Catholics. Steve Latanation (drums) is from Agent Orange. And Ed Cain (bass) has, according to Valentine, “been on the road with just about everyone you can think of.”

“These guys have helped to mold a very distinctive sound,” Valentine says. And she gives them a lot of credit for their ability to create that sound in live venues. “Well, anyone who knows me also knows that I can be a little flighty. For instance, I’m not sure that I’ve ever sang a song the same way twice. It’s not an element of creativity or anything, I just usually forget the words to songs. Even my own.” And the band, well, “They just follow right on along! Those guys have put up with quite a lot of flaking on my part. It just doesn’t seem to bug them. It must just be a really great fit.”

And while the diverse influences, and the musical artists with whom she plays, should give you some idea of what you’ll hear from Valentine, her voice and her stylings are, of course, her own. She won’t be playing again in Nashville for a while, though she does say to she’ll keep us posted on that. Her next scheduled show is in September, in Lexington, KY. In the meantime, you can check out her music via her website (www.TashaValentine.com) and her MySpace (www.myspace.com/tashavalentine). - Nashville City @ Night Magazine (by L.J. Kelly)


Discography

Tasha Valentine
Live. Less Ordinary.

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Bio


Some performers strive hard to achieve greatness scratching and clawing every inch of the way for their chance in the spotlight. They live, eat and breathe blood, sweat and tears often to never reach their desired goals.
On the flipside of that coin there are others who are literally born to greatness with opportunity at every door and an almost inescapable responsibility to share their talent with the world at large.
Powerhouse performer Tasha Valentine is certainly one of the latter. Though Tasha never pursued the role of chanteuse, it was nonetheless thrust upon her from an early age performing as a child in blues clubs at her mother’s insistence.
It was clear even from that age that center stage in the spotlight was a role that fit Tasha Valentine like a glove.
As she grew older and garnered more onstage experience Tasha developed a near symbiotic relationship with the stage and her audience that endures even to this day.
Perhaps best known as one of the finalists from the first season of Nashville Star (which produced Country music superstar Miranda Lambert), Tasha has since moved on past her early days as a Patsy Cline impersonator and the strict traditional country sounds that seemed to have pinned her down during her stint on the show. Tasha’s current stage persona has evolved into a much more down-to-earth place that fits her performances and sensibilities much better.
Tasha recently recorded her first album “Live. Less Ordinary” at the famous Lipstick Lounge in Nashville Tennessee with her amazing backing band featuring Rich Gilbert (Lead Guitar/Banjo-Frank Black & The Catholics), CJ Summers (Rhythm Guitar, Piano), Steve Latanation (Drums-Agent Orange), and Ed Cain(Bass). Produced by Cathy Mac and Tasha herself the album also features Wendy Christopher and Jonda Valentine on backup vocals.
Seemingly transfixed on the dark beasts in human nature creeping always at the periphery of the shadows, “Live. Less Ordinary” opens with a damned creepy version of Ray Ungar’s paean to murder and insanity “4 Blue Walls”—echoed later in the album with an equally creepy version of the traditional “In the Pines” —then launches straight into a funky traditional blues version of “I Can’t Stand the Rain” before switching gears entirely with soulfully sublime interpretations of traditional Kentucky death reels “In My Time of Dying” and “Death Came a Knockin” before settling into an exceptionally powerful country noir via Ray Charles rendition of Bill Withers’ classic “Ain’t No Sunshine”. Other standouts on the album include a melancholy take on John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” and a powerful roadhouse blues tinged version of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday.
Make no mistake, despite her preference for revisionist interpretation, Tasha Valentine has no small amount of writing chops all her own having penned such powerful tunes as the melancholy tear-jerker “Out of Reach” and her powerful signature anthem for the broken hearted “Slow Rollin’ Tears” which calls to mind seasoned legendary performers like Betty Wright and Janis Joplin. Both of these tracks are also feature prominently on the album.
A consummate performer, Tasha Valentine possesses a singular presence that commands no less than full attention when delivering her own powerfully eclectic renditions of classics from as far back as Billie Holiday and modern favorites like Bill Withers and John Prine alongside arrangements that run the gamut of stylistic stagecraft from traditional Country to the Blues to Gospel to Soul to Jazz and good old-fashioned American Rock & Roll somehow melding them together in a thoroughly modern and seemingly effortless combination of depth, soul and power that transfixes the audience with its seeming complexity while managing to remain true to the essence of each piece. When Tasha Valentine takes the stage there may not be an altar or pulpit, but the emotional impact of her performance practically guarantees that the audience will be “having church” as they say. With her dexterous vocal skills allowing the curvaceous crooner to move effortlessly from sultry whispering growl to big mama wail in one breath Tasha transforms each song into her own, her stylistic interpretations resonating with the listener long after the music has stopped.
Tasha Valentine is currently booking new shows for the coming year and Live. Less Ordinary is currently available for purchase from CDbaby.com and itunes.com as well as at any of her shows.