Described as “sexy, soulful, genuine, and edgy” by the San Francisco Bay Guardian and an “indie folk powerhouse” by Bend’s Source Weekly, Valerie Orth is a fearless and genre-bending songwriter. Her distinctive hybrid of rock, groove, soul, and folk reaches out and grabs your attention; her live performances captivate and charm at once.
Rich with melody and metaphor, Orth’s tunes move nimbly betwee...n darkness and light, hope and despair, taking deft turns of phrase along unforeseen rhythmic twists in the road. With gorgeous, multi-octave vocals and no fear of heights, she flirts with the edge as readily as she subverts expectations.
"Unpredictable and highly original,“ writes the Jefferson Agrarian. “Just when you think she’s going to settle into a familiar groove, off she flies into the stratosphere with phrasings you never saw coming.”
Orth’s dynamic range as a performer is made all the more compelling by what the East Bay Express calls a “completely intuitive composition style.”
Influenced by artists as diverse as Ani DiFranco and Bjork, Meshell Ndegeocello and Zap Mama, Valerie understands song as revolution, whether personal or political, and as evolution, creating change within herself and the possibility for it within her listeners.
“There is an honesty to Valerie's music that is both brilliant and heartbreaking,” writes the San Francisco Chronicle.
Orth grew up, as she puts it, “singing before I could talk.” That penchant led from musical theater productions in her youth to an African diaspora choir at Tufts University. Along the way, she studied drumming and dance in Ghana. But her background is mainly in activism. She campaigned for a women's studies department at Tufts and organized rallies for fair trade and environmental justice. After graduating, Orth took a job with Green Corps, then moved to San Francisco and became a labor organizer for Global Exchange. She challenged corporate behemoths like Procter & Gamble and led the effort to pass San Francisco's anti-sweatshop law in 2005.
After a few years of burning the midnight oil on grassroots campaigns that often found her working over 70 hours a week, Valerie decided to return to her musical roots, hopeful that her art might have similar impact to her work in social justice. “Songwriting and performing are basic necessities in my life,” she says. “I couldn’t stand the idea of not singing.”
Her new CD, Faraway City, which the East Bay Express described as “a remarkable piece of work,”features Scott Amendola (Charlie Hunter) on drums, Julie Wolf (Ani DiFranco, Indigo Girls) on piano and organ, and Jon Evans (Tori Amos) on bass and electric guitar. Produced by Evans, it amply displays Valerie's range as composer, lyricist, and singer.
"I think we went a bit more 'out-there' than the regular singer-songwriter genre," says Orth.
The same can be said about her live band, consisting of punk-rocker and scientist, Veronika Safarova on bass, jazz genius and power player, Jeff Marrs on drums. Both sing in gorgeous and haunting harmonies.
Together they bring their own unique rock sound to venues all over the Bay Area, and, soon enough, all over the world. Please visit www.valerieorth.com for more.