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Valerie Davis photo 1Rock singer / songwriter Valerie Davis could not have imagined a more idyllic scenario for the recording of her debut album I Found Me, as she found herself in the studio with a legendary cast of musicians, which included, guitarist Michael Landau (Seal, James Taylor, Miles Davis, Boz Scaggs, Pink Floyd, Rod Stewart), guitar man Steve Farris (Eddie Money, Mr. Mister, Celine Dion, Edgar Winter, Whitesnake, Rita Coolidge, Tori Amos), bass guitarist Leland Sklar (James Taylor, Air Supply, Clint Black, America, Laura Branigan, Stephen Bishop, Sarah Brightman, Karla Bonoff), bass guitarist Deon Estus (Wham!, Tina Turner, Marvin Gaye, Annie Lennox, Elton John, Aaron Neville), drummer Herman Matthews (Stevie Wonder, George Duke, Patti Austin, Boney James, Michael Bolton, David Foster, Kenny G.), and drummer Ray Brinker (Maynard Ferguson, Natalie Cole, Pat Benatar, David Lee Roth, Brian Seltzer, Joe Cocker).  In addition, Davis collaborated with songwriting guru and producer Barry Coffing whose singing credits include, the # 1 hit, “How Do You Talk To An Angel,” the movies Moulin Rouge and Winnie The Pooh’s Grand Adventure.  Coffing’s writing credits are too numerous too list, however suffice to say his compositions have appeared on the soundtracks for a lengthy list of movies and television series, such as, Mystic Pizza, The Brady Bunch Movie and The Thin Pink Line. However, as those in the music industry will tell you that despite all of the talent assembled for Davis’ project, it would all have been for naught if it were not for the splendidly talented vocalist and her keen songwriting sensibilities. 

Valerie Davis’ album takes its title from her song, “I Found Me,” co-written with Coffing. She explains how the song came to be, “The whole song came about, when I went to see my mother who had been going through chemotherapy. I was watching an episode of Oprah Winfrey and it was about Lance Armstrong’s wife who said, ‘I am just letting you know, that when I lost Lance, I found myself.’  Then the idea came to me that is a song that she is talking about.’ Her life had consisted with being consumed with Lance, the kids and his career and she had wanted to do that. It made her happy and them happy. When they separated and that life stopped, she realized that she had to find out who she was again. That is how the lyrics came about. It was her story, and I just added some things to it, thinking that is the story of a lot of women, who get married, they have an idea what they want that life to be, create that life, it consumes them and they forget about themselves. That is pretty well what the song is about, that when we lose someone, we find ourselves and who we are, whether it is through death, divorce or through relationships. That is where the lyrical idea came from. What I hope the listener gets from the song is that there is a real you and it is important that we harness, and don’t lose it in our career or our lifestyles. If everybody could just think, ‘That’s me too,’ and say ‘What is it that I want to do and that will help me feel more complete?’ Maybe after listening to this song they will say that there is more to me than being a helper, giver and caretaker, which is fine, but you need to take care of yourself first, in the midst of all of that.”

These are pretty heady times for Valerie Davis, who has toured with the likes of Whitney Houston, Bette Midler, Adam Ant, Taylor Dayne and Chaka Khan. Her vocals have appeared in a supporting role for notable artists such as, Toni Braxton, Patti Labelle, Gladys Knight and Luther Vandross. Recently, Davis’ song, “It Ain’t Over,” was selected by Fox Sports to be used in conjunction with some of their television programming. Davis’ songwriting skills were acknowledged when, “I Can’t Help Myself,” was selected for the film Tru Loved.

In Davis’ mind, although she enjoyed the experiences of working as a background singer, she always saw herself being in a more prominent role and as headlining her own act. “I always envisioned myself singing in the front with my arms stretched. I always wanted to be in the limelight, in the center, because first of all when you are younger, you think that is really cool, and that you can sing what you want to sing, it will be your music and your songs. When I left my teens and as I got a little older, it (wanting to be in the limelight) was because I had something to say, I thought it should be said this way, and it would be a great thing for people to hear my music. I am looking to take my own experiences and to say, that’s me in this song and that’s me in that song. When I was in my early twenties is when I would say that I really want to do this, and then shortly after that, is when I began doing it. It is so great. I am so ready to do it,” says Davis.

While confident in her own abilities as both a singer and a songwriter, Davis is quick to give credit to those whom she describes as the amazing players who appear on her album. She also says, “Barry Coffing, the producer, is a mentor and someone to whom I can really look up to. He believes in me, my career, my heart and my passion. He gets it.”

It is important to Valerie Davis that she is true to herself and true to her music. “Once you get a little wiser, you think, ‘I have something to say, and if I could say it this way it would be great.’ You don’t have to be shaking the whole time that you are giving this message, its like; please can there be somebody who is a singer / songwriter who wears what they feel like wearing and not what they feel that the public wants them to wear. It is so you can really be yourself. That is the position that I am in now, so I am happy about that.”

The soulfulness of Davis’ vocals and her ability to evoke strong emotions in the listener come through in her song, “She Never Felt A Thing,” a rock ballad which talks about a woman who uses her lovers and then tosses them onto the scrap heap of life, without any remorse. Valerie Davis photo 2

Davis says, “I think that sometimes men get the short end of the stick, they are the bad guys, they are evil, they do all of these things to women. How could he do this to me? Women do their share of things which are also unkind, and they kind of get away with it, because they are women, so it couldn’t have been them. It couldn’t have been their fault. I just wrote a song a couple of days ago, called, “Let Go,” and it’s a guy’s perspective of who is wrong and who is right, that it doesn’t matter, we are just going to let go and we aren’t going to try to place the blame. “She Never Felt A Thing,” comes from the perspective that there are women out there who do things that are unkind, are cruel and that they do things in relationships. I thought that it would be a nice twist to show reality from that perspective too. Throughout the whole record, the vibe that I am trying to portray is what is real life? Even before I started, I asked what songs could I sing which people could attach to in some way, be it that they got a great laugh out of it, because it is hilarious, a fun song when they can just laugh and let their hair blow in the wind, or they can just say ooohhh, I need to do this or that. I wrote that song (“She Never Felt A Thing”), so that people would know that when they do things which are unkind there are repercussions.”

At the risk of spoiling the song for first time listeners, Davis discusses how she decided on the ending for, “She Never Felt A Thing.” She says, “When I talked to Barry Coffing about the concept for the song, I asked him whether we should let her live, whether we should let her live in pain, or if we should just take her out. He said, ‘Taker her out.’ To me it is always funny to hear the background of a song, and I was, ‘You guys are thinking about that,’ but it works the way that the lyrics fell together. This is what happens when you do things that are unkind. It ties in with, “She Never Felt The Pain,” because she hurt people, regardless of what the repercussions were and when she died, she died instantly. The life that she led (contributed) to her demise in the same way.”

Interestingly enough, in her song, “Deserve,” Davis puts a man in the position of being one who has wronged people in the past and the singer chooses to forgive him. She explains, “That idea came to me by knowing that there are men and women in the world who get into relationships and then things don’t work out. I definitely wrote that from the perspective of a woman who is looking at a man who maybe did other women wrong in the past, and he finds someone who he wants to love, but who he is scared to love. Because he has hurt so many people in the past, he asks, ‘Do I even deserve love?’ In the lyrics it says, “Everybody deserves another chance,” in other words, always forgive. I was saying (in the song), that even though you have done some things, everybody deserves forgiveness. The only way that you can truly be free is by forgiving yourself. I was just trying to let people know that we all make mistakes, you need to let go and receive the love that someone is trying to give to you.” 

At first blush, one would think that on an album in which Valerie Davis serves up a smoking cover of Jimmy Hendrix’s song, “Fire,” and on which she is surrounded by legendary musicians that those things would garner a lot of the listeners’, but really those things are just the icing on the cake, because it is the soulful, passionate vocals and the heartfelt lyrics of Davis which will catch your ear and make you a fan. With a music industry which is reeling from economic chaos and a decline in music sales, we need more artists like Valerie Davis who bring freshness and honesty to music to which everyday man or woman can relate.

Interview with Joe Montague, protected by copyright ©