Her audition: Valerie Ponzio, 32, of El Paso, Texas, auditioned with Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire.” You might say it went well. By the end of the chorus, Gwen Stefani was facing in her direction. By the end of the song, all the other Voice coaches were facing Valerie as well. Gwen was so obsessed with Valerie’s performance, she approached the stage and gave her a kiss on the cheek. Blake reminded Valerie that he’s coached Voice country artists she can hear on the radio right now. Valerie went with Team Blake.
Her background: Valerie says there’s Mexican and country roots in El Paso, “so that’s everything I do in my music.” She describes her music as country Americana. That said, she started out singing princess fairytale songs at age 8 in costumes her mother made for her. Through high school, Valerie says she focused on guitar, then went to the Berklee College of Music. “I’ve been full throttle music as long as I can remember,” she told The Voice. She tried odd jobs after college before forming a country Americana duo with her boyfriend. They perform as Val and the Southern Line.
What the show didn’t show:
* She’s refers to herself as a County Mexican Outlaw in her website bio.
* As Val and the Southern Line, she and her fiance released an impressive three-track EP in 2016. “Drink Up” is especially good. Be sure to check it out below.
* Val and the Southern Line came to be about a year and a half ago and she and her fiance began performing shows under that name last June. “We just played wherever we could across the country, any little bar, honky tonk that would take us,” she said in a conference call with the media.
* According to her Wixsite bio, she began singing in local talent competitions at age 8.
* She picked up guitar at age 12 and started performing in church and writing her own songs.
* After graduating from Andress High School in 2003, she attended Berklee, where she received a degree in contemporary writing and production.
* Post-college, she honed her skills as a guitarist and singer by performing on cruise ships.
* Here’s what Valerie told the El Paso Times about her songwriting: “I enjoy stripping it down and writing honest songs about where I’m from and what I’ve been through and not sugarcoating it. A lot of people I’ve met (from El Paso) are broken and abused, but they are fighters.”
* During that conference call, Val told Voice Views she went into the auditioning wanting Blake as a coach, “but it’s a whole other story when four chairs actually turn and you’re seeing these idols that you’ve had growing up fighting for you.” But, in the end, she said: “I knew that picking Blake would be just the best choice for me because if there’s someone who can mentor and guide you through country music, he’s definitely the guy.”
“Drink Up” (from the Val and the Southern Line EP)
Take Me to Church (cover)