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My Interview With Valerie Wood

Interview By Rebecca Kane

When I first laid eyes on Valerie Wood, I was immediately captivated. I saw her at a Vaudevillian show, mesmerizing the audience with her velvety vocals. I was compelled to write an article about her. She sounds like Alison Krauss meets Peggy Lee, mixed with the dreamy mysterious sensuality of Jessica Rabbit. I had to know more about her.

Valerie Wood grew up in Eastern North Carolina, where she was surrounded by a huge family that loved music. She inherited her musical gift from her grandmother, who played piano in church, and her father, who loved to sing. Valerie would sing with her sister, Jenny, who played all kinds of instruments. Her mother was a nurse that travelled a lot, and would encourage the arts by taking Valerie to everything from Broadway and operas, to camping trips. They vacationed in Europe together as recently as a couple years ago.

Valerie describes herself as slightly shy, and her friends and family encouraged her to sing. She started performing in school musicals, which she enjoyed, although her love for words made her feel that she leaned towards being more of a writer.

Valerie invited me to a brunch in Chapel Hill with her band mates, and a room full of her closest friends. I could see that she’s surrounded by a community of artists that support her. Talking with her friends, it’s obvious to me that Valerie has found her niche.

I accompanied Valerie into the studio, where she is venturing into a new experience by writing all original material, and recording her new album with her band A Mad Affair.

RK- “I just love your retro jazzy sound. I was wondering, who were your top three influences vocally?”

VW- (without hesitation) “Freddy Mercury, Robert Plant, and Ella Fitgerald. I actually started out singing jazz standards.”

RK- “Can you tell me a little about your songwriting process?”

VW- “After I write the lyrics, I write a simple chord structure on the ukulele to go with the feel of the song. When I introduce it to the band, they colour it in, and add the finishing touches.”

RK- “I first saw you at a Vaudevillian Revue. Do you get a lot of gigs within the Vaudevillian genre?”

VW- “I have put all gigs on hold for now, since we are recording the new album in the studio. I have been quite lucky because I’ve been asked to play gigs at the Lincoln Theater, Eno Festival, NFL Streetfest, and the Pourhouse. I’ve played weddings, parties, and various bars, including the Vaudevillian Revue, mainly by special request. I’ve also put my other band on hiatus, The Lasting Happiness, to concentrate on recording.”

RK- “I can certainly understand why your talent is in demand. Did you pursue music in college?”

VW-  “I felt like the music industry wasn’t very stable, so I went to culinary school. I really got into inventing recipes, and trying to make existing recipes healthier. I’m into dance and yoga, so health is very important to me. Eric, my bass player, is also a yoga instructor.”

RK- “This is a really nice studio. When is your album set to come out?”

VW- (smiles) “We are hoping to release our album by late May.”

As I parted the studio, Valerie left an impression on me. She’s the kind of personality that’s easy to make friends with. She’s extremely sweet and generous, and has a great sense of humour, along with a silly side (she loves to make funny faces). She lives completely in the moment and talking with her is effortless. I cannot wait to indulge myself in A Mad Affair, with the incomparable Valerie Wood.

by: Rebecca Kane




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