Blending folk, soul, blues, and Appalachian traditional elements into a refreshingly timeless sound that sits outside any particular musical era, Valerie June stands in a long and storied line of unique performers in Memphis, a city with a still vibrant music scene even into the 21st century. The daughter of a brick cleaner from Humboldt in the flatlands of West Tennessee, June took quickly to the various local roots music styles in the area, teaching herself guitar and developing her own stylistic mix, interpreting traditional material like it was still alive and breathing, and writing her own material with an eye to the influences of passionate and socially minded songwriters like Bob Marley. She officially began performing at the age of 19 as half of the husband-and-wife duo Bella Sun (the couple released an album, No Crystal Stair, in 2004 on their own Bella Sun Music imprint), but when the marriage fell apart, June left the South and began living the life of a gypsy street musician, playing for change in bus and subway stations up and down the West Coast. She eventually returned to Tennessee, settling finally in Memphis, where she slid right into the city's active music scene. By now she had added banjo and lap steel to her musical base, and she began to draw local attention for her powerful performances, becoming a favorite at area folk festivals and workshops.