August 9, 2012
Nanango singer Valerie Mathews loves the blues … in fact, she says she’s at her happiest when she sings the sad songs born in the American south.
“There’s a melancholy part of me that connects with the sad songs. I was a melancholy child,” she said.
But that doesn’t stop her also performing country and popular music. And her audience loves her for it.
Valerie will be performing at the Maidenwell Hotel from 7:30pm on Friday evening (August 10), the latest in a series of local gigs since she officially launched her singing career earlier this year.
She has performed at the Boonara Homestead sesquicentenary, Wondai RSL, Murgon RSL and the recent Home-Based Business Expo at Kingaroy RSL.
Valerie’s journey to becoming a vocalist has been an unusual one.
Her resonance with blues music probably dates back to her childhood. She is part of the Stolen Generation, a Gunggari woman born in Mitchell. Valerie and her six siblings were fostered out to different families.
“There was a lot of sadness in those days. The family was disconnected,” she said.
Eventually her family made contact again and it was her late sister, Linda, a musician, who first pointed Valerie in the direction of becoming a singer.
“She said to me: ‘All you have to do is give yourself permission to sing’, and I did,” Valerie said.
In May last year, Valerie attended a music workshop in Nanango organised in conjunction with the Boots’n'Bulldust country music festival.
The facilitator, professional vocalist Bobby Ricks, recognised her hidden talent and offered to become her mentor. The pair then performed at gigs as a duo, “The Honky Tonks”.
Darren Schmidt, lead vocalist of local band Blues Excuse, is a fan.
“Valerie provided entertainment at our Relay For Life in September last year. Her vocal set was sensational,” he said.
“She sings at the blues and jazz end of the spectrum, with a very warm and honest delivery and an obvious love for the music she’s delivering.
“Valerie’s show also has a very human element. She connects well with an audience and has a modesty and humility that’s very appealing.”
Valerie may enjoy singing the blues, but she’s now happy.
“I’m happily married and I have made my home here. My husband Henry is very supportive of what I am doing and has encouraged me along the way. In fact, he’s become my roadie, and my cameraman.
“And all the ‘chicks’ love him and want to dance with him at the gigs.”
Valerie is now taking her musical career in a new direction as she is learning to play the piano, a skill that she hopes to eventually work into her on-stage performances.
Video: A series of sound clips from Val’s repertoire that she’s posted on YouTube