Making music is Val Blaha’s destiny. She started singing before she could talk, and by age 12 she was a highly accomplished classical pianist, earning recognition from various regional and national organizations. In college she studied piano accompaniment for 3 years before changing course to focus on anthropology, earning her BA from UC Santa Barbara, and MA at Western Washington University.

During the mid to late 1990s, Val became drawn to country and folk music, and was greatly inspired by the Indigo Girls, Emmylou Harris, and Nanci Griffith. She learned to play rhythm guitar, and spent countless hours transcribing the chords and lyrics of hundreds of songs (this was before you could just look everything up online!)

In 2001, Val quit her day job as a volunteer coordinator at a Portland environmental non-profit and began teaching piano lessons. In 2005, her good friend Patrick Buckley (Pagan Jug Band, Grafton Street) asked her to make a washtub bass and join his newest band, Buck Dance Medicine Show.

Fast forward 3 years (after the birth of her son). Val formed Top Hands, a country/classic rock cover band with good friends Mike Aplin and Bruce Braukman. The trio (Val’s main role was singing and playing mandolin) performed at farmers’ markets, restaurants, and parties in Oregon, and her experience with the band gave her the confidence needed to branch out and start writing and performing her own music.

In 2012, Val released Find the Beauty, her first solo album of 10 original songs. In summer 2014 she recorded her second album in Portland at New North Sound, with the help of musicians Tim Ellis (guitar), Tim Connell (mandolin), Tony Furtado (banjo, slide guitar), Paul Brainard (pedal steel), Theresa Riccardi (drums), Joe Aloia (bass), Sharon Donaldson (violin), and Joseph Siegel (violin).  Water, Ashes & Wood was released on January 5, 2015 and garnered airplay on folk radio stations around the country and abroad.

2016 was a busy year for Val. She performed at least 40 shows, including solo performances, and with her band Val’s All Purpose Shine (with Joe Aloia, Theresa Riccardi and Jamie Corff). In May she recorded four original songs with producer Rob Stroup (The Baseboard Heaters, Moody Little Sister) at 8 Ball Studio in Portland, OR.  The EP Fact or Fiction included “Gaslight” and “Ghost Town”, and also received folk radio airplay.

That same summer Val went back into the studio with her folk-pop duo Luminous Heart. The duo (Val with guitarist/singer/songwriter Jamie Corff) recorded their first album, a six song EP, with Jon Dark at Pyrate Llama Studio, and the EP Possibility was released October 2016.

Val continued writing and performing over the next couple of years. In spring of 2018, she completed a successful a run as Bitsy Mae Harling in Gallery Theater’s performance of Sordid Lives in McMinnville, Oregon. This was a role Olivia Newton John had played in the Sordid Lives movie, and Val was thrilled to step into a role one of her childhood idols had originated!

Val headed back into the studio in May 2019 to work with producer Jamie Hill in Tacoma, Washington. World on Fire was released in August of that year, and includes performances from several stellar Puget Sound musicians including Dan Tyack (pedal steel, resonator), Jesse Turcotte (bass), Dave Hannon (guitars), and Shannon Curtis (vocals).

Like most musicians, Val took a hiatus from performing for most of 2020. From 2020 through 2023 she focused on writing for various publications including an online music instruction site and Crush magazine in McMinnville, and also continued song and poetry writing. Her poem “Holding Lightly” was selected for publishing in the 2022 Paper Gardens book as part of their annual writing contest.

Val also set up a home recording studio during the pandemic, and learned the fundamentals of music production. She has written and produced two songs for short films, one of which was in the 2022 McMinnville Short Film Festival.

In summer of 2023, Val completed the first draft of her musical Ruby Sneakers. She received an Artist Grant for the work in early 2023 from the Yamhill County Cultural Coalition and Oregon Cultural Trust, and in February 2024, the first act of the musical was read by the Gallery Theater Readers group.

Val continues to write, produce and perform, and is looking forward to teaching a workshop on song writing at Terroir Creative Writing Festival in Newberg, Oregon in April 2024.

Val’s musical style leans toward strong melodies and compelling story-telling. She’s most at home playing folk and Americana music, but enjoys listening to and playing songs from a wide variety of genres. She matches her lilting alto voice with her steady rhythm and finger-picking guitar work. The combination of her musicality and authentic lyrics has created fans who appreciate her heart-felt performances.

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Val Blaha