An Evening of Music with Valerie June, Rachael Davis, Thao & Yasmin Williams is a collective of multi-instrumentalists influenced by a kaleidoscope of musical traditions. All these powerful artists were invited by the visionary promoter, Anya Siglin, to perform at the Ann Arbor Folk Festival. After an exhilarating evening of songs and stories that transfixed the audience, each artist was excited to take the show on the road. Their performances weave interactive conversation segments with songs in a Nashville-style round. This powerhouse collective of women from uniquely different backgrounds, ages, and views share united auras of sound and music.
About The Artists
Valerie June Hockett is a Grammy-nominated artist from Tennessee. She’s been hailed by the New York Times as one of America’s “most intriguing, fully formed new talents.” A musician, singer, songwriter, poet, illustrator, actor, certified yoga and mindfulness meditation instructor, and author, she honorably served as a Turnaround artist working with students for the President’s Committee for the Arts and Humanities and continues serving through The Kennedy Center. She has recorded three critically acclaimed, best-selling solo albums and has also written songs for legendary artists such as Mavis Staples and The Blind Boys of Alabama. She’s been featured on The Tonight Show, CBS, PBS, Austin City Limits, Later with Jools, and many more. An Amazon #1 Best Seller in poetry, her first book, Maps for the Modern World, is a collection of lyrical poems and original illustrations about cultivating community, awareness, and harmony with our surroundings as we move fearlessly toward our dreams. She is the author of the children’s book Somebody to Love: The Story of Valerie June’s Sweet Little Baby Banjolele, published by Jack White’s Third Man Books. When she’s not touring, she splits her time between Tennessee and New York.
Multi-instrumentalist Rachael Davis is as renown for her expressive–and explosive–voice as she is for uniting the often disparate worlds of folk, blues, country, and pop. Davis grew up not only in a family of musicians, but in an extended village of remarkable musicians and songwriters who nurtured and mentored her from the time she was born. Beginning by jingling ankle bells in perfect time on her months old feet in the middle of old-timey jams and song circles, to contributing newly minted songs to Music Sundays, Rachael has always found her own unique part in the music. Her clear tone and uncanny memory for just about every song she’s ever heard came early, and has served her well throughout her career. Because Davis has been swayed by so many different types of music, her style is difficult to file and will not languorously rest amid broader musical genres. These days Davis describes her music as ‘Motown-Banjo.’ Davis has lent her voice to countless recordings for friends, film soundtracks, and even video games, but it is her intuitive and empathetic understanding of folk music—“the music of folks” as she calls it, and her original and thoughtful songwriting voice that has earned her fans around the U.S.
Thảo Nguyễn (better known simply as “Thao”) is a veteran artist, songwriter, touring musician, and producer, originally from Northern Virginia. Throughout her impressive career, she’s released music via legendary labels Kill Rock Stars and Domino Record Co. imprint Ribbon Music and been featured by The New York Times, NPR, Austin City Limits, Pitchfork, Washington Post, and many more. Thao has also been the subject of a PBS-aired documentary, exploring her first trip to Vietnam as the daughter of refugees who fled during that countries civil war and will once again be teaming with PBS as host of a series about artists redefining the notion of Southern-ness.
Yasmin Williams is an acoustic fingerstyle guitarist with an unorthodox, modern style of playing. Her music has been called some of the most imaginative guitar music out today. She utilizes various techniques including alternate tunings, percussive hits, and lap tapping in her music to great effect. She grew up in northern Virginia where various genres of music from smooth jazz to hip-hop were played in her household. She was introduced to the guitar after playing the video game Guitar Hero 2. Her recent album, Urban Driftwood, was released on January 29, 2021 and has received high praise from numerous major publications including The New York Times, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, The Washington Post, No Depression, Acoustic Guitar Magazine, Paste Magazine, and many others. She has been featured on several radio and television programs including NPR’s Weekend Edition, Tiny Desk, and PBS NewsHour.