Valerie Troutt and "The Sound of Peace"
Bay-area born and bred, jazz and gospel trained, and internationally respected, Valerie Troutt is a musical collagist, borrowing from ancestral centuries of sound, channeling spirits, and delivering the stories of our love, loss, and lives. There’s a light in this unapologetically unconventional artist/teacher/activist for whom art and activism are intertwined. Within this spiritual and social justice-driven performer is a lifelong hunger for craft, for connection, for cultural narratives and an indefatigable thirst to serve as an agape griot to a waiting and hurting people. The Sound of Peace, her long-awaited, full-length debut comes after a critically acclaimed EP and several wizening years culminating in Valerie Troutt’s acceptance of her own original artistic difference in a world of commercial carbon copies.
The daughter and now aunt of an Oakland-based family of artists, activists, teachers and spiritualists, both by blood and by community, the melding of Troutt’s creative and spiritual life emerged early, at the age of seven with her first church solo. Children’s choirs, holiday solos, and developing skills in piano and guitar as well as voice followed at the famed Walter Hawkin’s Love Center. By adolescence, at Berkeley High, Troutt’s world was being cracked open to the world of jazz at the same high school that produced jazz darlings Joshua Redman and Benny Green. Jazz camps, a Carmen McRae Scholarship, Stanford Jazz, Howard University Jazz program and ultimately the New School Jazz Performance program with contemporaries like Bilal Oliver and Tiombe Lockhart—always surrounded by teachers and learners, both vertically and horizontally, in her musical blossoming. After the requisite hand-to-mouth NYC grinds, lesson-rich production deals with labels like Oblique Sound (e.g., Gretchen Parlato), and a brief experience abroad as an ambassador for the International Association of Jazz Educators, Troutt ended up back in the Bay teaching music at the East Bay Center for the Performing Arts and performing for two years with the Grammy-nominated Linda Tillery and the Cultural Heritage Choir, most recently as a featured soloist on Still We Rise, Still We Sing.