Valerie James is as tall and white as they come, but she considers herself a Burqueno (a native of Albuquerque, NM) and Etta James' soul sister at heart! Influenced by Susan Tedeschi, Bonnie Raitt, and BB King, along with her musically talented family, Valerie has been surrounded by the blues her whole life. She sings, plays guitar, and writes and performs her own blues, as a solo artist and with her own band. She has a love of teaching music to kids, instilling a self-awareness and love of expression from the soul. A finalist in the Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition in 2004, and now in her 8th year of directing the competition, she knows the passion and honesty it takes to perform the blues.