Soulful songstress Tasha Valentine to perform at OutLoud!

Some performers strive hard to achieve greatness scratching and clawing every inch of the way for their chance in the spotlight. They live, eat and breathe blood, sweat and tears often to never reach their desired goals. On the flip-side of that coin there are others who are literally born to greatness with opportunity at every door and an almost inescapable responsibility to share their talent with the world at large.

Powerhouse performer Tasha Valentine is certainly one of the latter. Though Tasha never pursued the role of chanteuse, it was nonetheless thrust upon her from an early age performing as a child in blues clubs at her mother’s insistence.

It was clear even from that age that center stage in the spotlight was a role that fit Tasha Valentine like a glove. As she grew older and garnered more onstage experience, Tasha developed a near symbiotic relationship with the stage and her audience that endures even to this day.

Perhaps best known as one of the finalists from the first season of Nashville Star (which produced Country music superstar Miranda Lambert), Tasha has since moved on past her early days as a Patsy Cline impersonator and the strict traditional country sounds that seemed to have pinned her down during her stint on the show. Tasha’s current stage persona has evolved into a much more down-to-earth place that fits her performances and sensibilities much better.

Tasha recently recorded her first album “Live. Less Ordinary” at the famous Lipstick Lounge in Nashville with her amazing backing band featuring Rich Gilbert (Lead Guitar/Banjo-Frank Black & The Catholics), CJ Summers (Rhythm Guitar, Piano), Steve Latanation (Drums-Agent Orange) and Ed Cain (Bass). Produced by Cathy Mac and Tasha herself, the album also features Wendy Christopher and Jonda Valentine on backup vocals.

Seemingly transfixed on the dark beasts in human nature creeping always at the periphery of the shadows, “Live. Less Ordinary” opens with a damned creepy version of Ray Ungar’s paean to murder and insanity “4 Blue Walls”— echoed later in the album with an equally creepy version of the traditional “In the Pines” — then launches straight into a funky traditional blues version of “I Can’t Stand the Rain” before switching gears entirely with soulfully sublime interpretations of traditional Kentucky death reels “In My Time of Dying” and “Death Came a Knockin” before settling into an exceptionally powerful country noir via Ray Charles rendition of Bill Withers’ classic “Ain’t No Sunshine." Other standouts on the album include a melancholy take on John Prine’s “Angel from Montgomery” and a powerful roadhouse blues tinged version of T-Bone Walker’s “Stormy Monday."

Make no mistake, despite her preference for revisionist interpretation, Tasha Valentine has no small amount of writing chops all her own having penned such powerful tunes as the melancholy tear-jerker “Out of Reach” and her powerful signature anthem for the broken hearted “Slow Rollin’ Tears” which calls to mind seasoned legendary performers like Betty Wright and Janis Joplin. Both of these tracks are also feature prominently on the album.

A consummate performer, Tasha Valentine possesses a singular presence that commands no less than full attention when delivering her own powerfully eclectic renditions of classics from as far back as Billie Holiday and modern favorites like Bill Withers and John Prine alongside arrangements that run the gamut of stylistic stagecraft from traditional Country to the Blues to Gospel to Soul to Jazz and good old-fashioned American Rock & Roll somehow melding them together in a thoroughly modern and  seemingly effortless combination of depth, soul and power that transfixes the audience with its seeming complexity while managing to remain true to the essence of each piece.

When Tasha Valentine takes the stage, there may not be an altar or pulpit, but the emotional impact of her performance practically guarantees the audience will be “having church” as they say. With her dexterous vocal skills allowing the curvaceous crooner to move effortlessly from sultry whispering growl to big mama wail in one breath, Tasha transforms each song into her own; her stylistic interpretations resonating with the listener long after the music has stopped.

Tasha Valentine will be performing live onstage at OutLoud! on Friday, Feb. 15, at 9 p.m. following the final performance of Read Our Lips. Nashville performer Kat Hunter will open the show for Valentine.

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