As a country singer from Memphis, thevaleriejune is a black woman making music in a scene traditionally dominated by white men. This alone would make her worthy of a nod in our 20 Black Voices for the New Century series, but also: that voice! Those songs!

June excels at telling moving stories in plaintive melodies, framed by strikingly-written music and tastefully arranged instrumentation. Her fourth long player, 2013’s Pushin’ Against a Stone, was recorded with Dan Auerbach of The Black Keys, and while that phrase is usually spoken as an album’s selling point, here it’s just a background note; songs like “Workin’ Woman Blues” and “Twined and Twisted” would be mesmerizing no matter who was at the board, or where the background players came from – as evidenced when you see her perform acoustic and alone.

Read more in the series: Twenty Black Voices