Valerie's fascination with music began at the age of five. Her mother, who played bass and sang, and her father, a dobro player, introduced her to bluegrass and country music in her hometown of Holt, Mo. It was there that Valerie began listening to and identifying with such pioneer artists as the Carter Family, the Louvin Brothers, Emmy Lou Harris, Kitty Wells, Hank Williams and Lorretta Lynn.
Valerie earned her degree in vocal music education from the Conservatory of Music at the University of Missouri in Kansas City where she studied jazz, pop, broadway and opera. Her love of bluegrass music never dimmed, however, and she interwove the music into plays and musicals for her elementary school.
Eventually Valerie and her husband, Kraig, made the move to Nashville. They became regulars at Bell Buckle CafÃ© in Bell Buckle, Tenn., where both participated in writer's nights. Valerie found a home for her music there and became a regular with the "Front Porch Pickers". This was the start of her association with J. Gregory Heinike. Together, the Smiths and Heinike formed Bell Buckle Records.
Valerie recorded her albums "Patchwork Heart" and "Turtle Wings" on Bell Buckle Records, with Alan O'Bryant, from the Nashville Bluegrass Band, as producer. She performed on the Grand Ole Opry as a guest of Charlie Louvin. The cut, "Red Clay Halo," a Gillian Welch song, rose quickly on the charts, reaching #1 on both the European and American Indie charts, as well as charting on Gavin Americana and the Bluegrass Unlimited Survey. Rebel Records became interested in Valerie's music and entered into an exclusive distribution deal with Bell Buckle Records for her projects.
Valerie and Liberty Pike were selected as one of five nominees for IBMA's "Emerging Artist of 1999 and 2000" and for SPBGMA's "Traditional Bluegrass Female Vocalist of the Year" award in 1998, 1999, 2001, 2002 and 2003. Her song "Red Clay Halo" was nominated for "1999 Bluegrass Song of the Year" and was selected #67 out of the best 200 songs of the decade, as voted by Bluegrass Unlimited Magazine.
Most recently, Valerie was honored with the oppurtunity to appear with Dr. Ralph Stanley on his latest release, "Clinch Mountain Sweethearts," REB-CD-1770, which earned a 2002 Grammy nomination for Best Bluegrass Album and the 2002 Recorded Event of the Year award from IBMA. She also won a 2001 IBMA award for Recorded Event of the Year for her work on Mark Newton's album "Follow Me Back to the Fold" on Rebel Records.
Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike are currently appearing at venues throughout the United States and Europe to promote "No Summer Storm," Valerie's latest recording for the Bell Buckle/Rebel Records label. This is the first of her albums to entirely feature her road band.
For more about Valerie Smith and Liberty Pike, log onto http://www.valeriesmithonline.com.
Check out the artist's website:
1. Sawmill Man
3. No Summer Storm
4. Jacob Spence
5. Love Wagon
6. Let's Let It Go
7. Sit Down and Cry
8. Walk Away
9. Lord, I'm Ready
10. I'm Lookin' For a Man
11. Where the Bluebells Grow