Marin County, California is well known for it's natural beauty and sophisticated elegance. And now the same fertile ground that has been home to some of the most incredibly gifted artists of our time has produced yet another significant and undeniable talent.
Keeley Valentino cites Patty Griffin, Emmylou Harris, Beth Nielsen Chapman, Amy Grant and Jackson Browne as her biggest musical influences. She also used to blast country music out of her '93 Mustang (car) stereo while growing up in Novato, CA. Consequently her own sound is a soulfully electric and joyful flavor of folk-pop that lives somewhere amongst the innocence of Colby Caillat, the sexiness of Norah Jones and the lyrical depth of Lisa Loeb. But she infuses that space with a fresh and dynamic style uniquely her own.
She has been writing and singing longer than she can remember. She became serious about pursuing a career as a professional musician when she was an undergraduate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee - Music City, USA. She enrolled in a songwriting class, where she met Stan Sonu, who would later collaborate with Valentino on her first album release in 2006 entitled , “The Mechanics of Leaving.” That album was produced by Matt Mangano whose credits include works by John Mayer, Shawn Mullins, Darrell Scott and Gabe Dixon amongst others.
When Sonu went on to medical school, Valentino continued traveling on her own musical path. She moved back to California in 2008 to further her career in the music industry by enrolling in the rigorous vocal program at the Musicians Institute of Hollywood.
For her newest release, "Three Cities", she is reunited with Mangano, who also enlisted the help of mix engineer, Brandon Bell. Bell is a Grammy nominated assistant engineer with Gary Paczosa. His resume lists the likes of Linda Ronstadt, Alison Krauss, Yo-Yo Ma, Tim O'Brien, Mindy Smith and The Duhks.
Valentino and her team explore new territory that seems like a natural evolutionary step forward from her last recording. The album is a musical topography of lessons lived and learned in places where she served her artistic residencies. The "Cities" in question are San Francisco, Nashville and Los Angeles. There are also guest appearances by Matt Wertz, Gabe Dixon and her old friend, Stan Sonu. This new work is already receiving critical acclaim from both industry professionals and music fans alike.
Her visceral songs are inspired by her own life experiences. “It’s stuff that I’ve gone through or seen someone else go through… relationships of all kinds", describes Valentino. The emotional pictures are drawn from her sometimes complicated life. Some of these relationships are successful and some are not so successful. She also writes about the journey of moving away from home to pursue her dream and a myriad of other life's ups and downs. They are all captured right there in her poetic lyrics.
Her songs are also in great demand and have been covered by other artists. Maureen Murphy, a Nashville based artist recently recorded a version of "Won't Wait Around" from Valentino's "The Mechanics of Leaving." The song helped Murphy gain a lot of radio airplay en route to the finals of a band competition.
It should come as no surprise then that Valentino has gained the attention of the stellar songwriting community in Nashville, where the art and craft of songwriting is revered and valued. "Hosea", one of the tracks on "Three Cities" is the product of a collaboration between Keeley and hit singer/songwriter Radney Foster. Foster was previously one half of 80s country/folk super duo, "Foster & Lloyd." He also has a cut on the new Keith Urban record, "Defying Gravity."
She is proud to have had oppotunities to perform in various places across the country, she was most honored to have been asked to play at a benefit at the Bluebird Cafe in Nashville to raise awareness for the tragedy in Darfur (http://www.savedarfur.org), as well as, a benefit for Watoto Wenye Nguvu which means "Children of Strength" (http://www.kilimambogo.org) in Swahili. The Kenyan outreach nonprofit was created as a means to help children in the Kilimambogo area of Kenya, about 60 miles northeast of Nairobi, overcome the devastating affects on their lives from the HIV/AIDS epidemic and widespread poverty. The program supports over 400 orphans and other vulnerable children through individual sponsorships which provides food, clothing, education, and medical care.
Keeley Valentino has come a long way. Especially for someone so young and so new to the music business. But she feels like she still has a lot more ground to cover. She looks forward to sharing the music within with fans who are looking to embrace an authentic fresh young voice. This Bay Area chanteuse fuelled by her own muse and filled with a wisdom beyond her years is grateful to be able to travel to musical destinations she feels called to discover. It is a journey that continues to inspire her. She looks forward to the road ahead and whatever other adventures it may bring.